- Thrash early. Thrashing is a term used to describe the creative brainstorming process that happens during a project. Seth Godin in his book “Linchpin – Are You Indispensable?” says that amateurs thrash late whereas as professional thrash early. Late thrashing introduces bugs which are better to identify early rather than later.
- Make mistakes and learn from them. Like Fred Brooks said: “plan to throw one away; you will anyhow”. Use prototypes to understand how new and technically challenging components work but treat these as throwaways not release 1.0!
- Deliver (ship) something. According to Steve Jobs “real artists ship”. Delivering something (anything) on time and within budget is one of the great challenges of software development. Time or money (or both) usually run out before anything is delivered. Here's a different way of looking at it though. Why not see the time/money constraint as a positive rather than a negative aspect of a project? So, if you have to produce something on time and within budget it's quite simple really. Just work until the time/money run out then deliver something.
- Read the rule-book, but then change it. For software development projects the “rule book” is usually the process that is meant to be followed. However it's important to recognise that there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to SDLC (software delivery lifecycles). SDLCs are good but don't follow them too slavishly. Be ready and prepared to customise them to your needs. A good SDLC will have this flexibility.
- Seek forgiveness not permission. I got this from an ex-colleague. In many companies today you are overwhelmed by (often) petty rules of engagement. If you always follow the rules that are supposedly “needed” to get a piece of work done then you won't deliver. You'll have done your job (followed the rules) but won't have done the work that your client wants. Better is to not follow every rule and ask permission for doing something but to just do it and ask for forgiveness when the rules get broken (unless those rules are there to keep you out of prison of course).
Okay here's the real irony in the above. If you read and believe my point number two from yesterday (artitects don't follow the process in the manual, instead they write the manual) you won't be following any of the above; instead you'll be creating your own way of doing artitecture.