The Old Way or the New Way

Many of us are employed because of our talent and experience. We get things done and our organization values what we do. We got this position because we did something well, as a DBA, developer, manager, or some other role.

It’s natural that we feel confidence in our abilities and knowledge. However, that shouldn’t prevent us from learning new skills, techniques, and patterns for getting work done. As much as many of us want to feel we regularly learn in technology, I often find that customers, clients, and friend struggle to change their habits.

Why is this? There is a good post on the topic that looks at why people want to use the old way. It’s from the perspective of the developer that shows something to a client, but I think this applies to many parts of our world. Making change has an effort, and the effort needs to have a high enough return to be worth making a change.

In terms of development, do we change our efforts when something is slightly better? Perhaps, especially if there security or resource changes could be high for our final deployment. What about if the changes are most nebulous, like slightly less technical debt? Or if there is a chance for more future flexibility in the design? The benefits we get back are sometimes hard to measure.

The changes also need to be considered for a team. A change for my coding habits might be low with little disruption to my workflow, but the change for a team of 10 is a multiple of the effort. We all have to make a change, and that can disrupt an entire sprint, or a series of sprints if our focus and rework increase as everyone tries to adapt.

My general rule of thumb is that some change has to be at least 20% better in some way. It has to make a fundamental difference to be worth the effort. This is one reason I never moved from Google to Bing. Bing works fine, but it’s not 20% better. I’m not sure it’s 1% better. It’s different, and that has a high cost to me to change.

Moving to new ways of working can be good, but the movement needs to be careful and slow, especially in a team environment. However, we also need to learn to move more when there are enough benefits. We sometimes forget that last part.

Steve Jones

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About way0utwest

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