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Hell, No, I Won't Go!

Long ago I made a personal choice not to work on insignificant projects with crazy schedules. I still work on insignificant, low-priority projects with reasonable schedules, as well as high-priority, important projects with crazy schedules, but I avoid the death-march combination of insignificant projects with crazy schedules. Whenever I see a schedule that looks suspect, I start asking lots of questions. Not only the obvious ones like "What can we defer?" and "How far can we slip delivery?" but the more challenging "Why didn't we start earlier?" This last one is key because it asks the organization to reflect on what went wrong, so that in the future projects don't need to go into panic mode. Working in panic mode is just plain dumb. It's the complete opposite of an energized and enthusiastic developer working around the clock when driven by passion. To produce great software, we need to understand the distinction—or "enlightened" organizations will start doing something counterproductive like mandating a 40-hour week a là eXtreme Programming.

The best of all worlds is an important project with a sane schedule; that way, if we get energized by and passionate about the project, we can actually deliver early. Wouldn't that be a nice change?

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