DROPPING SOFT SCIENCE

THINGS CUSTOMERS NEVER SAY

“I wish this company released products sooner so I could help test their market viability.”

“Hey, have you seen this product? It’s almost half-way decent!”

“Their last 3 products sucked, but I’ll keep coming back in case they do something right.”

“It’s awesome how quickly you shipped all those half-baked features!”

 

LIVE LIKE A STARTUP

Our restaurant delivers your dinner in a third of the time by bypassing the steps that require heat.

Can you build my house in half the time if we skip the blueprint thingy?

What’s the fastest tattoo you can give me?

 

WE’RE SO AGILE WE FORGOT TO BUILD A PRODUCT

I want to delight my customers, not prick them with releases to see what kind of data comes oozing out.

Your first customers aren’t beta testers. Beta testers report bugs. Customers uninstall.

Let’s not get so agile & lean that we run starving off a cliff.

 

CREEPING FEATURITIS

CAUTION: Chronic featuritis can lead to inflammation of schedule and irritable team syndrome.

Features are like tribbles. Sure, they’re cute, but left unchecked they’ll choke your enterprise.

Features should be considered guilty until proven innocent.

 

MY IDEAS ALL SMELL LIKE ROSES!

Every “what if?” starts with “I don’t know.” Innovation begins with humility.

Learn to love the trash bin that holds your almost good enough ideas and it’ll be your friend for life.

The ability to recognize the best idea is a crucial skill, as the source will vary.

Don’t feel stupid when someone else comes up with the best idea. Feel wise & righteous that you saw the value & championed it.

Something obvious is either cliché, wrong, or the best answer. Don’t avoid the obvious on principle.

That brilliant idea you just had is already scribbled in notebooks around the world. Focus & execution are the true test.

 

FOCUS MATTERS—SQUIRREL!

You want to focus on all ten projects? I do not think that word means what you think it means.

The horsepower of your team is irrelevant when they’re spinning their wheels in the ditch next to the dragstrip.

A snarling pack of hedge bets are the natural predators of focus.

Thinking up a good product idea is easy. Not going “Squirrel!” when the next good idea scampers by is the true challenge.

 

QUALITY MEANS GIVING A SHIT

The Golden Product Rule: Deliver the product quality to others that you would have them deliver to you.

Cannibalize, shmannibalize. Work like hell to obsolete your current product before your competitors do it for you.

The trade secret for delivering quality product is giving a shit.

Sacrifice quality at the altar of schedule one too many times and people who take pride in quality leave.

Stand up for quality or lie down with mediocrity. Then walk to the nearest pub.

 

COMPANY CULTURE SHOCK

A company mission statement is written with actions, not words.

Every time you do something “just this once” you’re setting precedent and steering culture.

The decisions you’re making now are molding the culture of the larger company you will soon become.

 

CRAZED WEASEL SCHEDULES

Thinking adds time to the schedule.

The “perfectionist” bogeyman is a scary bedtime story told to justify the release of unfinished product.

In modern software companies, the delta between quality & mediocrity is measured in days or weeks, not years.

Rushing through work is a surefire way to create more work that needs to be rushed through.

Quality, Features, Schedule. Pick any two.

 

STARTUPS: WE’RE ALL HERE ‘CAUSE WE’RE NOT ALL THERE

It’s not a sprint or a marathon. It’s a sprintathon.

Silicon Valley rewards timing, luck, & personality as often as it does competence. A startup with all four is gold.

A startup is where you work dog years, get paid half-man hours, and only have time for catnaps.

 

UNDERSTANDING DESIGNERS

What designers crave most is permission to make great things.

When you say “this release isn’t about quality” to a designer, what they hear is “I am Sauron.”

You don’t need free food & ping-pong tables to hire & keep the best designers. Just let them do their best work.

In Programmer Hell, every single line of code is subject to “expert” review by the entire company. Much like Designer Earth.

 

STUPID SOFTWARE TRICKS

“Sort by relevance or date” is a fantastic option. Now I just need to decide if I prefer my information ancient or irrelevant.

A love note to all the sites that insist on a secure password, but won’t accept “special characters.” Please don’t ever change.

“The content owner has not made this video available on mobile. Complaint emails will be printed & faxed to his office.”

Let’s put delete right next to duplicate in all software menus, then celebrate by running with scissors.

 

THE LEGEND OF WATERFALL

As water features go, you’d have better luck finding the Fountain of Youth than true waterfall process in software development.

Figuring out what you want to build before you build it isn’t “waterfall,” it’s design.

Where are the software companies that refuse to code before the design is 100% complete? Are the roads paved with gold there?

The software industry needed to unite against a common enemy, so they invented one and named it ”waterfall.”

 

OK, NOW YOU’RE JUST BEING A SMARTASS

When your company’s product plan starts to feel like the “let’s split up” scene in a horror flick, it’s time to rattle some cages.

When you say “I’m passionate about this,” I hear “my rationale is flaccid and weak but I still want it.”

Necessity is the mother of invention. Deadbeat dads of invention include Frustration, Laziness, & Greed.

Theory throws epic parties that would last all night if his buzz-kill neighbor Reality didn’t always call the cops.

Modern software execs always demand top quality & craftsmanship…at the luxury car dealership.

Cost and schedule aside, what exactly is the upside to boiling the ocean?