Monday, August 15, 2016

How fear is influencing the software development industry

The software industry is largely made up of highly intelligent and highly analytical individuals. It's an industry where experience, ideas, and intuition help set people apart. We celebrate innovation, creativity, simplification, reuse, use of patterns and avoidance of anti-patterns but if not careful we can encourage a culture of fear.

Being Afraid To Be Wrong

Being wrong is often viewed as not being good at what you do. In an industry where your intellect and your intuition are your primary tools to be successful, being wrong can make you feel as though you're not as intelligent or as capable as your peers.

But this is a fallacy. The most intelligent and most intuitive people I've worked with in the industry are able to differentiate and admit when they're wrong. Being able to recognize when you're wrong and pivot to the right path is a skill that sets the highly capable apart. It's a sign that the person is truly looking for the best solution, rather than the best solution they can create.

Being Afraid To Try Something New

The software industry is constantly changing. This can be unsettling to people who feel like they're constantly trying to keep up with the latest and greatest in technologies, frameworks, and platforms. It's often the case that the latest and greatest is really just a passing fad. Getting caught up in one of these fads can have negative impact on your team or your project depending on how much you've embraced the technology.

New technologies and new ideas always come with risks. You risk adoption being so low that the tech will fail, security vulnerabilities, scalability problems, and a whole host of problems that can come with new tech or new ideas.

The problem with over-indexing on the risks is that you'll miss out on the game changing technologies and ideas. You miss out on things like Agile development, CAP theory in distributed computing, Linux, Node.js, native Mobile apps, and much much more.

Being afraid to try something new means you run the risk of being left behind and becoming irrelevant.

Being Afraid To Fail

Failure is a very important part of progress. Being afraid to fail is tantamount to being afraid to make progress. Often, people are afraid to fail because they believe that if they do they're not going to have another chance to succeed.

The real problem isn't failure, it's the scale of the failure. Waiting too long to validate your assumptions is a recipe for disaster. The key to failing well is to limit failures scope and to learn from it. If you can create an environment that leaves room for failure, you're creating an environment that can be successful.

Don't be afraid to fail, be afraid to not be able to fail.

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