When the project DOESN'T suck!

Over on LinkedIn, I recently asked for experiences and war stories about the personal impact of “projects that suck.”

There’s this one response, which was sent to me privately so I won’t quote it, but the gist of it was to say projects that succeed can be even worse than those that fail. Because when the project fails, you might get fired (or quit) and then at least start over somewhere else. But if a difficult project succeeds, your reward is that you get another difficult project.

And it’s not like there are many significant projects that are not difficult. So doing really good work and persevering in the face of one crazy hassle after another just means you get hassled more. No wonder people quit this field! The guy who wrote this to me did exactly that. He’s not in software development anymore.

Funny, I never thought of it that way, but he’s right. Who’s really happy in software development? I’ve been talking about the projects that fail (or are on their way to failure), but the ones that actually succeed aren’t always so great to work on either.

All I’m saying is… we have to do better than that. You spend too darned much time at work to have it be miserable in any way that can be avoided. Sure, there are jobs that might inherently be more fun or less fun (depending on your taste) than hacking code, but it shouldn’t be the kind of job a properly skilled person dreads showing up for every day. And yet.

I believe it’s important to arrange work environments so skilled and motivated people can get stuff done without hurting themselves and without burning out. How crazy is that?