The daily grind of a technology professional ping pongs between two key areas: building stuff and fixing stuff. If there is one parallel between my professional work and home life it is that something always needs fixin’. It’s a constant and can contribute to anxiety, frustrations, and even anger. To me, building new things is quite a bit more fun that fixing broken things. But which activity gets more of my attention?
In the technology world broken things, or as we say production issues, most often receive top priority. If something that is supposed to work is not, then it requires immediate attention because it is disrupting the flow of business. Employees are onsite and are paid to resolve it. At home, depending on the severity of the problem, it could receive immediate attention or stay broken. Plumbing problems usually get immediate attention while a broken yard tool might stay broken.
Do it right the first time
I remember this from childhood “Do it right the first time and you won’t have to redo it”. That’s really good advice for a kid in school. I had a few projects and papers that didn’t pass the cut. At work we often battle the constraints of time, money, and priority. We make trade-offs of building something the best way versus the fastest way versus the cheapest way. Maybe that’s the culprit behind so many software bugs and capacity failures. But then again is there always a better way?
Who’s number 1?
When multiple things are broken at the same time which one gets fixed first? Business leaders don’t like prioritizing work because they want to do it all right now. Often times the number one project or the number one broken problem is determined by who screams the loudest and that can change every day. I hear technology professionals complain about “changing priorities”. It can be chaotic. It’s definitely a challenge. But in my mind, it’s part of the territory with the job. There are methods to the madness and ways to survive.
The number one thing.
Treat people with respect and communicate well. We’ll always have broken stuff. We’ll always have new things to build. Technology professionals will always hear things like “you take too long and cost too much.”
To overcome this, treat people with respect by communicating early and often. Let them know that their request is important. Help them to succeed.
In the end, it’s about relationships with people. Things that need fixin’ are just details along the journey.