Ravi Mohan's Blog

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Rules For Failure #1 Create a group

I've been notcing that people who never get anything done seem to follow a few (anti-)patterns when they start off their projects. The most common one says "To get something done, first create a committee".

The key insight is that people may not think they are creating a committee; they may think that they are "discussing" their ideas with friends. But what happens is that there is a lot of discussion and no action. If there is some action, it tapers off soon enough.

This can be seen in various attempts to "learn design patterns" or "evangelize agile" or whatever. The dynamics of forming a group give an initial emotional high and a short lived illusion of progress. In the end, the effort dies down and it is time for the next fad.

With all the emphasis on "teamwork", not enough people can summon up the gumption to start working on something by themselves and make some progress before talking about it, or trying to get other people involved.

Consciously reversing this pattern seems to help. To master a programming language or framework , for e.g, just shut up and code. When the coding is finished release the code and do something else. Doing that long enough, you'll find you attract like minded people.

So these days, when people say things like "I am very interested in learning mathematics" my counter question is "so how many problems/proofs did you work through today"? Nothing else is important. Replace "working through problems/proofs" with the appropriate context dependent measures of progress.

Don't yap. Work.


Reginald Braithwaite said...

I agree! And if you want to end up with a group of coders, start with working code.

Ravi said...

I am a regular reader ( lurker :-) ) of your blog! I find your blog entries *very* insightful. Thank you for your comment.


lawgon said...

add, keep committing the code while you are doing it and i would agree

James said...

I think you are on to something there. Let's get a committee together to discuss it.

David Seruyange said...

Now to get those half-done ideas cleaned up enough for the group to see and discuss...