Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Present solutions not problems

Had an interesting talk with Zach last night. As a person running a larger team, I now have some insight into that phrase "Present solutions not problems".

When you're running a larger team, you need to rely on your developers to generate new ideas and run with them. (see ask permission not forgiveness). There are going to be problem areas in your code, some you know about some you don't. What doesn't help is when people say the code in area 'X' is terrible and needs to be refactored.

As a leader of a large team, it feels like people are asking you to agree with them about something you may know little about. You are being asked is it is OK to refactor this code, and help prioritize it. As a leader you are missing critical information that will help you judge return on investment. I know I used to present problems to management, I was seeking permission to explore them. Well, this is explicit permission to explore the problems you find. After that few hours present the steps to solution and the ROI.

If you find a piece of code that is troubling be prepared to show the first steps in cleaning it up, show how it will help (simplify/generalize/reduce bugs) as well as the refactoring steps to get it there. This shouldn't take more than a few hours to put together. Turn a problem into a solution.


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