Get It Done

<2019-07-27 Sat>

One of Alan Perlis' epigrams states:

Every program has (at least) two purposes: the one for which it was written, and another for which it wasn't.

This is true of values, too, I think. Consider an organization that values people who "Get It Done". On first reading, this sounds like a fantastic value: too many times in my career I've worked with teams that would chase perfection at the expense of practicality. Or spend weeks or months researching an idea rather than simply trying to implement it. "Get It Done" states that the value lies in producing a working system.

But, as Perlis' epigram suggests, there is another facet. I've observed that it is often a darker one. Beneath "Get It Done" is a pile of excuses for mediocrity. That making something work at all is somehow more vituous than thinking ahead, designing, and understanding the dynamics of the system you're building.

Like so many problems, the answer lies in a balance, and sometimes the balance is hard to explain. I sometimes tie this back to the Goldilocks Principle, but perhaps a shooting-centric principle is more illuminating:

Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.

That is, before you ingrain your habits, make them the right ones. Then focus on speed. Resist the temptation to think that "Get It Done" means that good practices should be ignored.

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