Short Takes on Software Development and Life

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a lot of change--job hopping, promotions, new teams to manage, corporate mergers, outsourcers to work with, and, of course, the next, best project to tackle. Sometimes it's easy to jump into new scenarios with old mindsets, armed with our own proven formulas. But in doing so, we run the risk of bulldozing some natural resources that might be lurking in the weeds. My advice: First tend the weeds, and remove other obstacles while actively observing what flourishes naturally on a new project, team, or task. Then add to the positive elements, bridge the trouble spots, and make adjustments strategically. We may still use our favorite methods to effect big change, but it'll be more productive when we do.

I'm now into my second year at the new house. I have fortified some of the existing beds, moved others, and added a few of my own design. The yard looks like I have been working on it for years. I doubt many of us have a year to wait before taking major action on projects, but I guarantee that a little well-placed observation will pay off in bunches!

"In" Season
Can you feel it? Fall is here. Kids are settled back into school. The evening air has lost its summer weight, and soon trees will begin showing off their colors. Fall has always been my favorite season. While I lived in Florida, I secretly missed those first cool nights and last fall harvests.

So what does this have to do with software? I suppose I could say, "Nothing. I just wanted to talk about fall." But I've noticed that people seem to have "favorite seasons" on software projects, too. Some people get fired up about determining requirements and creating early designs. They tend to be idea folks, and you can see them get all wound up during brainstorming or story gathering. Visit them during a code review and you might experience a very different energy. Others just love the end game-putting features through their paces, uncovering unexpected outcomes, and getting the product shored up and ready to ship.

Discovering your favorite season on a project can be helpful in two ways. First, it gives you an idea of where your natural strengths are. By aligning your role in a project with where your energy is highest, you can enhance your productivity and flex your skills. Second, knowing where you thrive can help you start to understand why other areas don't capture your energy and attention as well. If you can't limit your role in those aspects of a project, you can at least make strategic adjustments-more preparation, additional time, or just more conscious effort.

So what's your favorite season? When in a project are you most likely to feel your energy level rise? When you think through the lifecycle of a new project, is there any part that you look forward to more than others? Think about it, and see if you can use your findings to help make the most of your efforts.

Meanwhile, I'll be raking a pile of leaves to jump into or watching the marching band at a high school football game. 

Danger, Will Robinson!
Did you ever watch the show Lost in Space ? It was a 1960s sci-fi series about a family whose spaceship got stranded on a distant planet. Every time the youngest son, Will Robinson, and his robot companion (aptly named Robot) got close to trouble, the robot would declare with arms swinging, "Danger, Will Robinson! Danger, Will Robinson!"

There have been many times I wished I had a personal device to warn

About the author

Pam Young's picture Pam Young

Pamela Young has fourteen years of media experience and more than a decade of interaction with experts and practitioners concerned with building better software. She was part of the publishing team that launched Better Software magazine (formerly STQE magazine) and StickyMinds.com and was editorial director for those publications from 2001 to 2005. She is now the director of publications for a national health advocacy organization.

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