Thursday, September 24, 2009

Building a Nation vs. Building Software

I was thinking today about how amazing it is that our nation was born. The right combination of amazing men, who were no doubt married to likewise amazing women. . . The goodness and endurance and courage it must have taken to lead such an enormously important decision to lay the foundations of a nation. The hours of mental exhaustion as these individuals engaged in activities that would impact billions and billions of men, women, and children.

I guess what brought that to mind is something rather insignificant - building software. we have been engaged in designing, planning, and building this piece of software for work that is rather minute in comparison to what the Fathers of our Nation did. In fact, there is no comparison, minus the fact that we, too, have spent hour upon hour, week upon week, month upon - well, we haven't been at it THAT long, but we are meeting in air conditioned rooms in comfortable chairs, usually with a big box of bagels or doughnuts nearby, and everyone is wearing deodorant (hey, don't underestimate how good that is!)

Today I was trying to engage in this mentally exhausting planning session where we define the engineering stories and scope out how long this will take, simultaneously attempting to manage some of my people via my computer, and responding to requests for training and getting information to a commission to which I belong for professional accreditation. It was a whole lot going on, but I didn't hold in my hands anyone's future or anything like billions of people's freedom.

Sure, I believe the men gathered together to construct the framework of our nation were educated, generally well-mannered, and purposeful men, but I know how tense it can get between a group of product managers and software engineers, and I have to imagine that the group of men who had the wherewithal to build this nation were pretty strong headed individuals. In the heat of summer, I am sure the room would have been filled with the ripe smell of sweat, and who knows what else, yet hour after hour they drove forward with determination.

I guess what I get from this is even in my small little place in the world, I can learn to be a little more patient, but also a little more diligent as we struggle to break through the mental wall that we hit while trying to imagine what your customers really want. I can believe that developing something worthwhile and easy to use (that is my big "Thing," usability) with which even well-seasoned (old) people can work. I may not be doing anything spectacular, but I am, perhaps in a small way, making some elderly person's life just a tiny bit easier!


  1. Sad Nirvana isn't still around. They could title a song, "smells like nation building"

    Great thoughts.....

  2. But what really matters is your "pretty face."

    Our nation is a miracle, I think.


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