I was working with a software developer earlier today and asked if we could make a change to the database structure that I thought was pretty simple. I was asking him to change a “required” field to “not required”. No big deal, right?
Nope. It was a huge issue.
It wasn’t difficult to make the change. It was difficult to think through all the implications of taking that action. He had to consider all that was going to happen downstream to the systems and processes that depended on that piece of data.
I watched him disappear into his head for about 10 minutes until he finally said “I don’t like it…but I agree that it will work.”
It was very much like the game of Jenga,which is so popular that it has its own website. Basically, the game is a stack of blocks and you keep pulling them out of the middle and hope they don’t topple over.
This software developer was trying to imagine all the possible situations where the system might fall apart after making that change…much like the stack of blocks.
Whenever you want to make a change to a system or process, there are some really smart people have to think through thousands of details before you take action (like pulling out the block).
Otherwise, the tower will someday fall apart and you will not know what happened.
Thanks for listening.