Musings of a Software Development Manager

M. Kenneth Clark

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Make it work before you leave 

My new(est) mantra is “make it work before you leave.”

Programmer, Developer, Software Engineer, or whatever other name du jour I’m called, at the end of the day, I get paid to make a computer do what I tell it to do. Let’s focus on the “at the end of the day” piece of that statement for a minute. Also, set aside the fact that I’m a salaried employee, and would get paid the same even if I didn’t get a computer to do what I told it to do. For the longest time, as a programmer, my days would go something like this:

Loop until project “BigHuge” complete {
Turn on lights
Turn on workstation
Design and/or Code
Go home

For many years, I was very happy running this little life algorithm, collecting my paycheck, and going home to my family. At least I thought I was happy. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my soul there was something missing – especially on large projects, you know the kind that can span months. I realized, after a while, that the thrill of actually getting something done was missing. There is typically fanfare and a party at the end of a project, but us programmers have to have many highs throughout the project to keep us motivated. Without motivation, you get mediocrity. With mediocrity comes a poorer product, which leads to sagging sales, etceteras, and etceteras. I had to figure out a way to work on large projects and to keep myself out of the doldrums. To combat this battle fatigue I simply said to myself each and every day, “make something work before you leave for the day.”
Every day, before I leave work, I make sure I made at least one thing work. One thing that is getting me down the road to success for the whole project. One thing gets done at a time. One thing is done right, and then I move on. In affect, what I’ve done is made myself a better project manager. At the beginning of each project, I spend a couple of days writing the signatures for each of the classes and methods that I’ll be creating. Then, day by day, I work down the list. On some days, I have small victories, like being able to wrap the text in a label. On others, I have bigger victories, like passing XMLs back and forth with Chicago. I still get the big payoff at the end of the project when everything comes together, but I also get to celebrate my small successes along the way, and that’s the Big Picture Point to the story. After all, it’s the little things that keep us going.

posted by Ken  # 10:00 PM
Comments: Post a Comment


03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004   04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004   07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004  

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?