See my post today on open salon.
In the early days, Steve Jobs came to a company Halloween party dressed as Jesus (NYT, link below). Now, after his death, the media and fans are treating him like a dead messiah.
It’s an icy day with snow piling up outside. Someone presents you with two choices of task.
(A) Stay inside and sort out the mess in your jewelry box, or
(B) Go outside an shovel the walk.
A right? Who wouldn’t choose A?
Then, five hours later, you’re still sitting cross-legged on the floor, a straight pin in each hand trying to pick apart a Gordian knot containing a broach, three necklaces, and four dangle earrings. The shoveler finished hours ago and is sipping hot chocolate while watching football.
Software Development Rule: The pile of snow is always simpler.
Developers by their very nature avoid tasks that seem boring and laborious. You write programs to do the heavy lifting! So rather than spend an hour doing data entry, a developer will opt to write a program that does it for him. He’ll argue, “The program can be re-used.” But what if it isn’t? I’m amazed by the number of times “re-use” never happens. Furthermore, what if the simple just-write-a-script tasks ends up in a five-hour jewelry box disentanglement? Leadership needs to be on the lookout for when tech folks simply need to shovel that pile of snow.
Management themselves are often attracted to whiz-bang. Who wants to hear about a boring, low-tech approach that saves $3,000? Is that why I have all those cool, tattooed tech guys in the basement talking about things that I don’t understand (but pretend to)? No, I want to year about a $50,000 tech investment that will increase sales 400%! That’s the pitch I listen to! But six months into a tech project now vastly over budget I may look longingly at the shovel.
So, beware. And ask yourself, what unglamorous “pile of snow” tasks and initiatives you and your tech folks avoiding?