Shiny, Shiny......new Software?

Our culture heavily leans towards the shiny new technology advancements.

New iPhone design? New VR Headset? New Tesla Cybertruck? Check, check, check. But what about new “under the hood” infrastructure changes? Yaaawwwwn.

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Often, a key component of product updates is overlooked — the software. Software can be less “shiny” and more time consuming to get right, but it is essential to ensure longevity and ongoing usability of a product.

I came across this article about the failure of Southwest Airlines systems during one of the busiest travel weeks of the year and it made me realize this is happening everywhere (and has affected Southwest multiple times). And its not just Southwest as the FAA itself issued a full ground stop for 90 minutes this week due to a corrupted database file.

The “technical debt” that accrues in legacy applications (Airlines, Power Systems, Water Plants, etc) would have most teams insisting on a full rebuild. The trouble is embarking on a multi-year project to overhaul the software of a system may yield less visible benefits.

Our culture has a tough time with this. If we are going to spend a significant amount of time and money on something — we don’t want to do that for future benefit — we want immediate gratification. Many CEOs, Politicians, Product Managers — are all measured on near-term performance. I’ve often heard people talk about “kicking the can down the road” because they won’t be here in 5 years when its a disaster.

It saddens me when I think about this lack of personal integrity and commitment to a continued cycle of ever increasing technical debt.

Hardwired into Floodlight’s DNA is to think about the next person that will touch our code. How do we make it so clean and simple that anyone can take it over? Its possible no one ever sees it, but we will know. We will know when its done right and we will sleep well at night knowing we took the extra time to do it the right way.

I’m curious about what our world would look like if we all chose to give that extra effort to ensure our tasks were done right. Would it matter? I think it would greatly change our experience of the world around us.

My hope for you, as we start this new year, is to consider this when planning out the resources needed to accomplish your goals. Happy new year! 🎉