I have a serious character flaw. I’m a perfectionist. Nothing kills creativity like trying to get everything right the first time around. One of the most important skills I learned in professional writing: is create first, edit to perfection later. Give yourself leeway and freedom to make mistakes and to experiment.
There is a second part to the lesson though. You must treat and follow your process as closely one should practise religion. In writing, a process gives you the structure to write faster, better and with more freedom. In programming and developing applications, rigour in sticking with your process is essential for the project’s health and your sanity.
Processes like planning, documenting, testing, deploying and fixing bugs should be well worked out in the developer’s mind. Being drilled, the developer can control her environment better. In a controlled environment, there are no surprises or unexpected issues. Everything works with the precision, logic and accuracy of a Swiss watch. With a well documented and followed process, you can measure efficiency and progress.
In a controlled process, you can work out what you can expect to happen and how. Your developers can gauge how their work is progressing. Your designers can see how well the implementation follows the design. Your testers know where to spend time testing. And your business people, can figure out the cost in time, people and materials your project will take. Everyone know what is expected of them. Your team feels less stress, and works more effectively. That is why ideas like Sigma Six and best engineering practises exist. Japanese manufacturer stressed over their processes bring them to perfection. No wonder why Japanese manufacturers can corner the market.
Without a process, chaos ensues, stress builds and projects fail. So if you manage a team or a project, do your team a favour: figure out a process that works for everyone and stick to it. Your team will appreciate less stress and chaos. And your bosses will appreciate a project well done. Perfection belongs in your processes.