The red ball, the spade and the chainsaw

Posted by on Apr 17, 2012 | Comments Off on The red ball, the spade and the chainsaw

What do a red ball, a spade and a chainsaw have in common? Strictly speaking, nothing, unless… you give them to Javier Malabares, the man that juggles the three of them at the same time.

A few days ago I watched the video above and was amazed with the juggling skills of this guy. After a bit of time thinking about it (and watching other of his videos) it came to my mind that we, at the IT industry, are no different than him in the sense that we often have to juggle several things that our customers (internal or external) throw at us, things that go from the plain and simple (like the red ball) to other fairly complex (the spade) and some other that are very, very dangerous (the chainsaw) or mission critical. Of course, if we have a “mistake” with our juggling we wouldn’t lose a hand, or a leg or our life, but we still could do a lot of unintentional harm if not handled correctly, not only to a business’ earnings, there are cases where a miscalculation or bug can even risk people’s lives.

I don’t really know how to juggle a chainsaw, but it sounds reasonable to start practicing with something else that is very similar to it, then maybe a prototype about the same weight and shape, then move on to the actual tool turned off and finally the actual thing working in full. When we started building software at SPARK technologies we begun with small projects and scaled up to larger and more complex ones than often spawned across several months to complete them, there have been projects where the complete team is integrated with our people, but on others we have to fit into existing IT teams and collaborate with them.

Then the juggling begins: specs, stakeholders, guidelines, business evolution, new requirements, changes of personnel, deadlines, reports, tests, bugs, changes in budgets, illness, vacations, blackouts, earthquakes (we’re on a seismic zone) and so on…

So, it looks that building great software that works its a lot harder than what it seems, it’s too bad that all this can’t be recorded on a cool one-minute video like the one above.

Well, my writing time is up, another act is about to begin!