Tag: software (page 1 of 3)

Finish what you start

This article uses the analogy of a burger chef to show how software teams can be more productive by focusing on a small number of features at a time.

I think this is more widely applicable. The factory production line was designed to make already-designed things with the fewest mistakes. It does not make people happy, nor does it foster creativity.

Figuring out problems is hard. It’s kind of what I do for a living. Having lots of different things on the go at the same time does not improve things, it makes each one worse.

Now that we understand the burger and the software variations of the problem, we can make a recommendation to both cooks and software engineers alike:

Reducing transaction costs enables small batches. Small batches, in turn, reduce average cycle times, diminish risk, and enhance reliability.

You should only start without having finished when transaction costs are high, and it wouldn’t make economic sense to spend time decreasing them, either because you have agreed to a particular delivery date or because you don’t have the capital to invest.

That said, I’d be careful to avoid falling into a situation where “you’re too busy draining the flood to be able to fix the leak”. The earlier you decrease transaction costs, the earlier you’ll be reaping the benefits from having done it.

Source: How finishing what you start makes teams more productive and predictable | Lucas F. Costa

Optimising for feelings, ceding control to the individual

It would be easy to dismiss this as the musings of a small company before they get to scale. However, what I like about it is that the three things they suggest for software developers (look inward, look away from your screen, cede control to the individual) actually constitute very good advice.

So, if not numbers, what might we optimize for when crafting software?

If we’ve learned anything, it’s that all numerical metrics will be gamed, and that by default these numbers lack soul. After all, a life well-lived means something a little different to almost everyone. So it seems a little funny that the software we use almost every waking hour has the same predetermined goals for all of us in mind.

In the end, we decided that we didn’t want to optimize for numbers at all. We wanted to optimize for feelings.

While this may seem idealistic at best or naive at worst, the truth is that we already know how to do this. The most profound craftsmanship in our world across art, design, and media has long revolved around feelings.

[…]

You see — if software is to have soul, it must feel more like the world around it. Which is the biggest clue of all that feeling is what’s missing from today’s software. Because the value of the tools, objects, and artworks that we as humans have surrounded ourselves with for thousands of years goes so far beyond their functionality. In many ways, their primary value might often come from how they make us feel by triggering a memory, helping us carry on a tradition, stimulating our senses, or just creating a moment of peace.

Source: Optimizing For Feelings | The Browser Company

Bring Your Own Stack

Venture Capitalists inhabit a slightly different world than the rest of us. This post, for example, paints a picture of a future that makes sense to people deeply enmeshed in Fintech, but not for those of us outside of that bubble.

That being said, there’s a nugget of truth in there about the need for more specific services for particular sectors, rather than relying on generic ones provides by Big Tech.

However, the chances are that those will simply plug in to existing marketplaces (e.g. Google Workplace) rather than strike out on their own. But, what do I know?

There’s a pressing need — and an opportunity — to build vertical-specific tools for workers striking out on their own. Much has been written about the proliferation of vertical software tools that help firms run their businesses, but the next generation of great companies will provide integrated, vertical software for individuals going solo.

Solo workers venturing out on their own need to feel like they can replace the support of a company model. Traditionally, the firm brings three things to support the core craft or product:

  • Operational support: functions like finance, legal, and HR that help people do their jobs
  • Demand: generating customers (through marketing/sales, branding, and relationships)
  • Networks: access to communities that support the individual

The solo stacks of the future will offer a mix of these three things (depending on what makes sense for any industry), giving workers the tools — and thus, the confidence — to leave their jobs. The software will be vertical-specific, as well, as lawyers, personal trainers, money managers, and graphic designers all need different tools, have different customers to market to, and require access to different networks to do their jobs.

Source: As More Workers Go Solo, the Software Stack Is the New Firm | Future