The Process is Not the Product

I've been thinking about writing this post for over a year now. It's inspired by this 45 second segment from Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview.

The wisdom of Steve Jobs' words keeps me grounded when I navigate the processes that are ultimely required to create effective products at companies both big and small. Everyday I work across domains: design, product, product where his advice is essential.

I often see teams and projects suffer under extensive process to the point where process becomes the project. To avoid such pitfalls, a team needs to keep the vison in focus and have the freedom to stay flexible. Engineering teams in particular can become weighed down by an over abundence of Agile ceremonies. One thing I've noticed about harmful process is that it often tries to measure the immeasurable - using some metric: points, hours, or sprints, that is foreign to human experience.

People forget that code is communication. It is mean to be read. The ultimate consumer of your code is other people. As a result, coding is a creative discipline. Picking the right level of abstraction and the right tools for the right job is essential. Maintainable, bug-free, and well documented code allows an application to live on (only good apps live long enough to become "legacy" apps). Extensive process can get in the way of making good decisions or simply drain energy and focus.

But, there is a place for process. As my career has advanced I have grown to appreciate the "good parts" of process. It is perfect for risk mitigation and improving cybersecurity or ensuring resiliency. I'm a strong believer in doing work "by the books" in the places it matters. The time of "move fast and break things" is long gone, especially when it comes to fintech. There is no comprise when it comes to legal exposure and no room for error in cloud architecture. The key is not to let the "optional" processes encroach on the vision of the product.

I hope that this article and these words from past help energize your work as much as it did mine. Thanks for reading.