“Yes, and” despite pessimistic engineering intuitions

As engineers, we often face the consequences of shallow ideas embraced exuberantly. Despite those experiences, we should try to solve future problems instead of re-litigating problems-past.

Engineers put too much value on their ability to spot flaws in ideas. It’s only worth something in certain situations.

— Thorsten Ball, 63 Unpopular Opinions

Don’t be edge-case Eddie, wont-scale Walter, legacy code Lonnie, or reasons Reggie. At least try to think around those issues and solve the problem.

This is very much a note to my previous self(s).

Pay attention to intuitive negative emotion…If you’ve been asked for quick estimates a bunch, you might have noticed that sometimes the request triggers negative emotions: fear, anxiety, confusion, etc. You get that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. “Oh crap”, you think, “this is not going to be easy.” For me (and most experienced software engineers), there are certain kinds of projects that trigger this feeling. We’re still pattern matching, but now we’re noticing a certain kind of project that resists estimation, or a kind of project that is likely to go poorly.

– Jacob Kaplan-Moss, The art of the SWAG

Jacob recommends noting how intuition and emotion are natural and not entirely negative influences on the process of evaluating ideas. The trick, he says, is to pause and switch to deeply thinking through the idea (or estimate) you’re presented with.

This, again, is very much a note to my previous self(s).

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to brainstorming and estimating this time machine, so I can deliver this advice to my former self.

Adam Keys @therealadam