Nature Hates Your Project

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The Universe wants your project to fail. Here’s a few ways that Nature issues the beat-down:


All things tend toward chaos. Software by it’s nature is the organizing of thoughts, procedures, and electrons. Very unnatural. Advantage:Nature.

The Relative Rarity of Psychic Powers in Humans

Your big project plan assumes you have some reasonable skill at predicting the future. Sadly, humans are bad at this.Advantage:Nature.

The Inexorable Progression of Time

Time doesn’t take a break. So every minute you’re sleeping and NOT coding, the Universe pulls ahead. Oh, and those new features you want to add in the same amount of time? Sorry. No deal.Advantage:Natire.


Is it any wonder that software projects have dismal success rates with the odds stacked so high?

One of the awesome things about Agile/Lean/XP/ is that it admits defeat in each of these cases. Rather than beating heads against these monumental obstacles, they slice and dice our activities to minimize the damage nature can do to our fragile efforts.

Can’t predict the future? Use sprints to limit your focus to shorter time spans. Our guesses get more accurate as the time we need to predict gets lowered.

Hard to fit all your features in before the deadline? Don’t focus on finishing everything before your deadline. Ensure you work on the most important features, and that those features work.

Code turning to mush? Refactor. Refactor. Refactor. This one is a drag-out brawl with entropy. You have keep up on this, and there’s no good way around it. Left to itself, your codebase will rot into a steaming pile of poo. You mow your lawn every week. Refactor your code regularly.

And so on. This is why many projects are so painful to developers. We’re being asked to undo the very fabric of the Universe and deliver on time. Of course, that’s exactly what we do, but it hurts like hell. Why not go for something a little more fun?

[photo courtesy of Jon Wiley some rights reserved]

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