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If you don’t know where you are going, any road will do

August 31st, 2017 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

This paraphrase from Through the Looking Class continues to reign in systems development.

The title of this post is a famous paraphrase from the classic Through the Looking Glass. I live it most days. The conversation goes something like this:

Me: The system won’t do such-and-such.

Builder: Of course not. It wasn’t supposed to do that.

This is simple. There was no prior commitment to what the system was supposed to do. Hence, any result will do just as any destination for Alice would do.

We have been able to hide behind the-latest-buzzword-in-development. We tried “something.” What we have, by default, it what someone intended at some time.

I am afraid that what we are telling ourselves is:

We don’t care enough about the other persons to commit anything to them in writing or over a handshake or any type of commitment.

Perhaps I am now too old for system building. I was raised in a time and place (far, far from here) where and when we told the other person what we were going to do and then we worked as hard as we needed to deliver that. The other person meant something to us. Disappointing the other person was the worst thing that could happen.

Today’s system builders are good, smart, caring people. They have the best of intentions and they work hard. Still, we seem to be relying on Alice a bit too much.

Tags: Adults · Agility · Commitment · Communication · Scope · Systems · Work

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