that was constantly fighting with the people who created the builds and installed the software. Only after the team members put a picture up on the wall did they realize that, due to changes on the team and an increase in the number of releases required of them, they needed to communicate differently. The mechanism they were using had been fine when they were releasing twice a year, but with six releases yearly, communication had broken down. Both teams were so caught up in daily work they didn't realize that their process wasn't keeping up with the change.
Ask a Newcomer
Four-year-olds ask great questions, but we don't always have one at the office. The next best thing is to ask the newest person on the team what practices strike her as puzzling or unusual.
When my friend Michael started at his current company, he asked about the number of approvals required to make what seemed to him to be minor design adaptations. He learned that a decade earlier, the company's major product line was in a regulated industry. So, even though the company had abandoned that product and wasn't subject to regulation anymore, the legacy of regulation remained.
The newcomer's perspective can be a wake-up call. Choices that made sense at one time may have outlived their
usefulness. Sometimes our explanations for why we do things the way we do can be a reminder that it doesn't have to be that way. Then we can choose again, if what we're doing no longer fits.
Keep a Decision Journal
Write down important decisions; include the alternatives considered and the rationale for making this decision. Make a note of what conditions would lead you to reconsider this choice.
Perhaps it made perfect sense to have the technical lead keep all the code on his machine when there were three people on the team and the company didn't have configuration management software. But now there are twenty people on the team, and they're tripping on each other's changes. A wise manager might have set a trigger to reconsider configuration management when the team size increased to five.
Most people make the best decisions and use the best practices they can at the time. We make decisions and then move on. The results of our decisions become part of our routine. But as the world changes around us, we need mechanisms to look at the shifts, examine our routines, and choose again.
I chose to put my shelf back in front of the door after the floors were finished. But thanks to Jack, it was a conscious choice, not a foregone conclusion!