Perfect vs Process

Perfect vs Process

There is pressure to make sure everything we deliver is great. Polished, professional, reflecting the near perfect brand our businesses want presented into the market place. So as I work a certain project document through a second or third draft, I am torn whether or when I should share it; With the team, With my peers, With the customer.

I have worked in the Free and Open Source Software community where the mantra is ‘Release early and often.’ It creates a tight feedback loop and involves users and developers closely working together. I like the results and so am tempted to use the same strategy in development of business related projects.

But ‘the Business’ does not like to have anything coming out that is less than perfect. To put a proposal out that is half-baked at best is a quick way to sideline your career. But if that same proposal has not had feedback from the team that must implement it or from the end customer, it risks missing the mark. And I have seen far too many proposals miss the mark, by a country mile.

What is the happy medium here? When can we safely move away from Marketing material and dive into Solution development? When is the right time to set aside our ‘We know best’ attitude and begin real collaboration to develop real solutions?

It is hard. Usually we are being paid as professionals. At a professional rate. And we are expected to be the Experts. That is why we are here. How does a professional open up their process to allow teams and customers to influence the outcome?

The Project Management community has a concept called ‘Progressive Elaboration’ where the team continually work on details for tasks, deliverables and time-lines. The plan gets more elaborate as we go. But it means admitting up front we do not have all the answers. And to some cultures that is like fingernails on a chalk board.

I am sold on the iterative process of sharing documents and ideas as soon as possible. I have seen good results, so I will continue to do so. But I understand the wariness to the approach. I am certain some things need to be developed behind the scenes. They say if you ever see sausages being made you will never eat them again.

Danny Aldham


“The Cathedral and the Bazaar” . Eric Raymond

Rolling wave planning and Agile software development