Last Friday's entry will come late. In
fact, it will show up on Wednesday. Sorry about that; I ended up
flying to Colorado, working on my house out there, then driving back.
Something about all that took the wind out of
my sails. Still, it's a good entry containing juicy stuff about dealing with the demons of the past and otherdramatic statements.
Fortunately this Monday passed with a
lot less drama than last week. At least, it passed with less surface
sound and fury. The actual impact of today's decisions, especially
if we carry them forward, promise to be profound. Like all profound
things, though, they take a bit of getting used to. Some people
might not even notice them at first, but will instead sense a changeof pace they do not quite comprehend.
Yesterday, you see, we let go of a dream.
Our leader had the wisdom to, subtly, point the way to another
possible dream, but I doubt it will make much difference at first.It never really does.
I make no apologies for both leading
and acting as a member of highly technical teams. As such, our
professional dreams tend to focus on implementing particular
solutions chosen from the solution wheel to address
architectural functions or business problems. Given my own
background I find the architectural bits far more exciting than
dreary business logic, though I can see the appeal of helping peopleresolve their work related issues.
The dream we let go of was no
exception. It was, in fact, a very sexy solution to the rather dirty
business of getting access to client business logic in a health care
environment. Fighting with old applications, shoddy code, and
standard equipment that fell out of the manufacturing cycle
years ago doesn't always lend itself to technically sexy solutions.
When one comes along, its easy to fall in love with it. And fall
hard for this one we did, though pain and travail the likes of whichonly a dreamer could love.
Unfortunately, that travail proved the
dream's downfall. It's one thing to champion a technology which only
beats up our own group. We can take a little pain, or even a lot for
a short period of time, to bring an important new technology into the
environment. It's another entirely to deal pain to the rest of the
organization with limited or no return and very little end in sight.
This becomes especially true when we fight incident after incident,
resolve issue after issue, without solving the fundamental problemsthe dream introduces.
So, it falls onto the leader's
shoulders to finally make a decision. When do we draw the line?
When do we stop supporting something we want so badly we can taste
it? When do we spin the wheel of solutions again to find a better
resolution to whichever architectural function we need to addressthis quarter?
You have to start with data.
Information about the number of incidents is a start but hardly tells
you the story. You have to dig into it, discover which issues fueled
those incidents, how quickly we could produce know issue statements
and work around, and finally how those issues tracked back to
fundamental problems. How much of our work was self-inflicted
i.e. The result of our efforts to support the solution rather than
address the architectural function? How much of our clients' time
and the business logic side of the house's resources did we wastetrying to keep our chose solution up?
From there, its time to set some
metrics and make the unpopular calls. How much is too much? How
much pain do you inflict? Given what we do for other teams, its
reasonable to expect the business logic groups to help us out but
when does it shift from asking for support to throwing them under the
bus in the name of our goals? All architectural changes involve a
good bit of pain and suffering though problems, but when do youdecide it's one step forward and two steps back?
Finally, and least popularly, when do
you re-prioritize the effort? When do you decide the resources,
time, and energy expended were all for nothing? How do you convince
others, especially those who bled to make the dream a reality, thatits time to move on?
That last question keeps me up at night
sometimes. Data isn't sufficient; being right does not make the
emotional and financial commitments go away. It doesn't resolve the
political issues created by supporting a solution you ultimately had
to abandon, or the sense of frustration from the allied teams as theywatch their time investments slip away.
It's a tough call. I wish I could have eased the way to making it.
We'll just have to see what happens next.