Saturday, August 14, 2010

Just Do It!

   Oops!  I forgot to put up an entry last week, so you get two this week to make up for it.  And awaaay we go!

   One of Jeff Atwood's entries on his blog, Coding Horror, struck me as particularly worth referencing here.

   Those of you in the coding business (as in computer programming, not medical coding), I strongly recommend you go read his blog, not only that entry but all the others too.  This one is not all that software-centric, so the rest of you can get the point very easily, but I'll summarize anyway.  (See his blog for the upstream source.)

   He tells of a ceramics teacher, who divided the class into two groups.  The students in Group A would be graded solely on the sheer quantity of pottery produced, literally by the pound.  Those in Group B only had to produce one pot... but it alone determined their grades.  A student wanting an A, had to produce a perfect pot.

   So what happened?  The best pots came from . . . Group A, the "quantity" group!  Why?  While most of Group B was sitting around researching, theorizing, and arguing about how to build the best possible pots, Group A got off their butts and did it.  They produced some pots, perhaps not perfect pots at first, but they learned from their mistakes, and made better and better pots.

   Does this remind you of anything?  I've been trying to keep this blog not software-centric, but it sure reminds me of what we call "analysis paralysis".  Those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, don't worry.  Surely there's something in your line of work, that this describes all too well.

   There have been many short pithy phrases to describe this phenomenon.  "The best is the enemy of the good", is attributed to Voltaire (though he said it in French), and is usually taken to mean that shining examples of perfection, often discourage the efforts of those afraid of falling short of that -- possibly the efforts to begin at all, but certainly the efforts to improve.  Much more familiar to typical Americans, however, is the Nike (as in sneakers, not missiles or Greek gods) slogan: Just Do It.

   Now it's your turn.  Tell us what you've been trying to figure out how to do perfectly, to the point that it's stopping you from trying.  Tell us how you plan to proceed, and improve on its imperfections.  Don't worry about making your comment perfect, Just Do It!