My maxims

20 Apr 2021

Posted by Amenel No comments yet

In my oral communication, I use lots of images and I tend to prefer the most vivid or unusual ones. I apparently also use some maxims of mine that have become staples of my speech, to an extent that I've been derided (in a good spirit) by my team about these.

Everything big in this world has been built piece by piece.

Have you ever heard the joke about how to eat an elephant? The answer: Piece by piece (Obvious, isn’t it). My point here is that some tasks appear huge but by breaking them into smaller units, the huge tasks can be overcome, over a period of time. This is a no-brainer, something obvious with which everyone agrees.

When you really want something, you do whatever is necessary to make it happen.

Of all my beliefs, this one is the toughest to enact in a human being. It is also the toughest to see emerge in a team. The reason is that it requires fighting human nature, which tends to guide us towards pleasure and ease.

Let me try to be concrete: you have to eat a chicken, a pig and an elephant. In all three cases, it will be done the only way that I know of: piece by piece. However, you can't expect to eat an elephant in the same time that you'd eat a pig, let alone a chicken. In this case, doing "whatever is necessary to make it happen" means accepting to wait. In the field though, executives, customers and users tend to want the elephant task done in the same amount of time as the chicken one.

Another example: I've taken on road running three years ago. I'm still awaiting the pleasure in it that so many people experience. I nonetheless ran an average target of 42 kilometers a week in the past year. What was I expecting to gain by running? Simple: the usual benefits of running: lower blood pressure, better sleep, weight maintenance, time away from work (in my case, time away from my computers). Inadvertently, in the process, I also saw the resolution of two chronic issues I had been dealing with for quite some time: a post-nasal drip I've been experiencing for over twenty years, and joint pain (yes, you read that right: in my case, running on hard road surfaces alleviates joint pain). 1600 kilometers in a year. And I do not love running. I do not even enjoy it. Any easier way to get all these health benefits would make me drop running without a regret. I haven't found that easier way yet. That's an illustration of doing whatever is necessary to obtain some results.

It apparently hurts to wait, something with which I cannot fully relate as I have no problem with being patient. When it comes to software products, there may be many unpleasant or difficult tasks on the road to getting the right product. There are specifications to write, goals to define, uncertainties to work with, a too long time to wait, best practices to implement, an ever-present shortage of resources for doing the job, an even more present concurrency of projects, etc.

You cannot build for the future if you are not playing the long game. You cannot safely build for the long term when decisions are made with the short term in mind. Or can you?



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