Aim Low, Do Less, Shoot for Mediocrity – 3 Things to do When Your Software is Crushing You
I’m not being ironic with this title. You’re not about to read a blog post that in the end exhorts you to dream the impossible dream and aim for the stars. When I say “aim low” I mean it. Sometimes middle-of-the-road is a worthy and reasonable goal. When you’re struggling daily with your systems, just being middle of the pack would be an improvement. And before you go feeling bad about it, take it from someone who has seen hundreds of organizations – every organization has been there at some point. Some organizations have never been anywhere else! Clawing our way out of the software quagmire. So if that’s where you are, what can you do?
Make two lists of what’s not working.
I suggest two spreadsheets. One is for “stuff I can’t solve” and the other is “stuff I can or maybe can solve”.
Take the “stuff I can’t solve” list and put it away for another day.
Don’t even look at it. In other circumstances I might suggest analyzing the list, testing your assumptions, seeing if perhaps there are things on the list you actually could solve if you applied a different frame of reference or considered a broader solution that might address multiple issues with a bit greater investment. Not today. We’re drowning and looking for a rope. This list ain’t it.
From the “stuff I can or maybe can solve” list, look first for an item (or a couple) that are:
- Pretty easy to implement
- Won’t take a lot of time
- Seem intriguing, even fun, to do
We need to rev up our problem-solving engines, get ourselves warmed up before we tackle tougher things. And we need to have a bit of fun. Being stuck in the software quagmire is not a good time. We need to re-kindle our software spark and build a bit of momentum.
Set aside a morning or afternoon.
Maybe a couple over a couple days. (Unless you’ve done it before, I don’t suggest a full day – too easy to get lost down a rabbit hole midway through, or start surfing the web after lunch and never return…) Block the time on the calendar, silence your phone(s) and (gasp!) disconnect from email, social channels, fax, telex and carrier pigeon. Pour a cup of coffee and get started.
If you find this works then, like the shampoo bottle says, “repeat”. Modify and tweak this process so it works for you. A couple additional tips:
Find a buddy.
Climbing out the software quagmire can be a long-ish road. Having a companion with whom you can commiserate, collaborate, bounce ideas around or cry into beers with makes it all easier. Do they have a sense of humor about it all? Even better.
Celebrate each success.
Big or small, perfect or a compromise, each one gets you closer to your goal.
Need a bit more inspiration (or just a good laugh)? Watch this clip and enjoy Bill Murray “baby stepping” his was through “What About Bob?” Classic flick:
But no watching more while you’re working!