Inevitably Agile

somethings are just inevitable …

Learning Lessons – Chaos

I read somewhere that life is a teacher, the world is the classroom and until you learn the lesson its trying to teach you, it will keep giving the lesson. So when something crazy happens and then happens again I usually try and look for the lessons that’s being thumped in my direction.

This week I learn a lesson that I think has been on repeat for about 8 years! That’s a looooong time to keep repeating the lesson. I thought it was just how things worked but apparently not 🙂

If you’re in Software Development you know the chaos and craziness that a QA/Production release cycle brings. Developers trying to finish what needs to be done, the client trying to make last minute changes that would suit them better, the testers finding all sorts of errors. Then there’s usually a day or two of silence (code freeze) before the big production release.  The QA cycle leaves everyone a bit frazzled, sleep deprived and stressed out, so the production release brings a welcome relief.

I’ve always had this belief that there will be 3 things that got missed. This way I expect 3 critical – oh my god the world is ending – issues to arrive within the first few days of a production release. As I’m expecting them, they don’t catch me off guard and I can deal with them. But I’m human and still stressed and frazzled as are everyone I am dealing with :). Thus emotions run high, tempers flare, there’s no time to sit and think or even have coffee – its just a cycle of fire, run, put out fire …

These last 2 weeks I’ve had the privilege of watching my teams last week in QA and first week in production. As I have resigned and my tasks are been done by others, I am hands off, but available for them to ask questions, advice etc. I don’t think I would ever have learnt my lesson if it wasn’t for this. I am not emotionally involved with the release, so I observed and watched the chaos and all the unneeded emotion, time, energy and frustration that goes along with stressed, frazzled, over tired people. And that was me … every release. I thought it was the best way – possibly the only way to get through it in one piece. (And I’d never admit, possibly wasn’t even aware of just how stressed and tired I was – damn adrenalin!)

Lesson: When things are at their most hectic, chaos all around, STOP. Pause and think. Apply logic and perspective. Ask advice and explain issues to people OUTSIDE the project who are not emotionally involved – they can guide you out of the chaos.

Update (11 Dec 2009): Try this to calm down and focus- http://www.zenontwowheels.com/2009/12/i-am-completely-stopping/

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