Perfectionism, Prudence and Progress

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

Yesterday there was an interesting article on InsideRIA titled: “How much is too much?”. This is a great topic, one which at times I have questioned myself.

Personally, I never take the “easy way out”, preferring to do things the “hard way”, so to speak. At times the benefits in doing things according to best practices, standards and conventions (a.k.a. “the right way”) may not always be immediately obvious. However over the years experience has taught me that in time the benefits always reveal themselves and the pros certainly outweigh the cons.

When given a good amount of forethought to a decision, a design an implementation and so forth a team almost certainly is afforded the ability to continue development feasibly and in a less challenging manner (as opposed to dealing with endless maintenance challenges). When things are done quickly with little regard for anything other than getting working code out the result is always failure at some level, most commonly the maintainability of a product.

With all this in mind it is important to understand that at the end of the day our development efforts, for better or for worse, are simply a means to an end for a specific business need. Therefore just as writing “quick and dirty” code has a negative impact on the business, so too does being a complete perfectionist. Admittedly, this used to be a challenge for me as I would tend to need designs, tests and code to “feel right” for them to be considered production ready, which typically resulted in me working many extra hours on my own time. This in itself is not necessarily a bad thing, but could rather be considered a labor of passion.

Ultimately the goal should be to find just the right balance of perfectionism, prudence and progress, providing necessary trade-offs where appropriate.

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