Sunday 14 November 2010

Don't Panic

This is not a new area of discussion for me. You will see that a theme runs through my views on software development. It can be summed up to two simple words and one large exclamation mark: Don't Panic!

There will always be deadlines - be they realistic ones or complete death marches.

There will always be defects - found in testing or left to the point of blowing up in a user's browser.

There will always be uncertainty - from not deciding what colour to paint the bike shed to wondering if you should ever have become a programmer.

If you plan on staying around in the volatile world of software then you are going to have to learn to take a few deep breaths and deal with the problem at hand. Fainting at the slightest sign of a challenge is not going to help you work through that issue. Remember that unless you plan on never waking up from your fainting episode then the problem will be there when you are offered the smelling salts.

Do not become one of those people who stands back and has some other calm person fix your issues. Instead, be the calm one. Be the go to person. When the fit hits the shan, don't join the throng of zombie fearing masses. Step back and remember that you are building software, not searching for weapons of mass destruction. A bit of broken code or integration issues will maybe cost some money or annoy a few customers but nobody will die. It is software and it can be fixed.

Rectifying a situation and solving a problem is important but jumping at it with reactions rather than sanity will not bring peace to you or the issue.

What can you do?

  • Walk away for a minute and get your thoughts together;
  • Don't make changes until you know exactly what the problem is;
  • Find someone to discuss the issue with. Explaining it to others can help you sort through it. They may also see something or know something you can't see through the haze of stress;
  • Let the people who are going to be affected know that their may be an issue and actions are being taken to remedy it; and
  • most importantly, DON'T PANIC!

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