Why Delivering Software is more a Challenge than a Race


A few weeks ago, I became a Tough Mudder for the first time. Tough Mudder is a British military style obstacle course challenge run around the world. I completed it in Toronto, Canada, the same weekend as the one in Lake Tahoe, California.

It is a challenge, not a race.

The core value is teamwork, helping your fellow participants to complete. The same applies to software project teams.

We’ve all seen it, the hero developer or analyst who stays up all night and works weekends to get it done. It’s good, as a team leader I value their contribution.

Getting to market or to production requires more than one person though. The folks in infrastructure, deployment, QA, design, development; everyone has a role to play. Each person has a different life pace, based on their skill, mental strength, and spirit on that particular day (note: new day can mean new pace).

Like at Tough Mudder, software teams face challenges all along the way. And at each one, members of the team will play to their different strengths. Some obstacles we must rally to go through it, one member may choose to walk around, or give a hand, a knee, a boost to another participant.

Face the fear.

It might get scary along the way. Maybe I don’t understand problem. Maybe I don’t know the solution right now. Just ask! There are people all around us.

Get in front of the fear. Fear to ask a question, fear of hearing the answer, fear of admitting you don’t know everything, fear of making a mistake. What ever it is, if you are in a safe environment surrounded by supportive people, take a leap and try.

Let’s get to Done!

Completing the Tough Mudder challenge was a huge accomplishment; doing the good (mud cleanse), the tough (arctic ice water dive), and the really scary (walking the plank) obstacles.

The highlights:

  • a shout from a crew-cut man on the backside of the ice tank: “Take my hand!”
  • my friend greeting me at the finish line with an escort to the beer tent.

It is the same in software. I don’t remember all the details about design or test results or how the process works. People and the joy of completing a project is what matters.

Give a hand. Accept a hand. We are in it together!

(photo: www.telegraph.co.uk)


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