"Just Good Enough"
Posted by Stan Taylor on August 10, 2011
One of the automation engineers on our team is extremely thorough. When she does code reviews, she sends back lengthy emails, and she provides a lot of good information regarding coding practices. Her devotion to detail is a real asset to the team. However, she is getting burned out on code reviews and sometimes I think her time could be better spent on her own work.
As a team lead, I struggle with this type of team member? She's doing outstanding work and almost every point she makes is technically correct and/or a good practice. I can't very well tell her she's not doing a good job.
My solution is to realize that she has a different viewpoint from mine. Hers is technical: from a technical point of view she's almost always right. But I have to balance the technical viewpoint with the business viewpoint. While what she is doing is technically right, from a business viewpoint, it may not be the best use of her time. From a business viewpoint, sometimes the right thing is consciously to let some things slide.
On this team, we're constantly refining our coding standards and practices. Lately, I've introduced the idea of 'Just good enough.' This is short-hand for the business viewpoint, a way of balancing the technically correct decisions with the business realities.
A lot of software engineers are happy doing their coding and letting me deal with the business issues. Unfortunately, this is one instance, however, where the engineers have to think about the business perspective as well.
Good post, Stan!
I have exactly the same issue with some of my testers.
I find that I need to constantly re-confirm with folks "what is important" in each context. I have to learn what is most important for this project from the business, and I need to convey that to the team each time.
Sometimes, complete technical correctness is most important. But sometimes (in my case, an increasing number of times), the schedule is most important. In the latter case, if we spend all our time on correctness, we'll not be able to ship on time - and we will have failed our mission.
A "just good enough" business need over a "must be completely right" technical need can be a difficult concept for some.