You can Turn the Oven Down

Posted on Mar 4, 2022

The other day I was cooking something in the oven. It was browning too quickly on top so I was juggling it between shelves and covering it with foil. My partner came in and said “Why don’t you turn the oven down?” I was treating something that is variable as invariable.

There is an infamous project within my team where we were running behind and tensions were high. We had a particularly fractious meeting and my manager at the time stepped in. She told us all to take a long weekend, and she will see what she can do. On Tuesday we came back and she had spoke to the relevant stakeholders and moved the deadline back by 3 months - the deadline which had caused so much angst was flexible.

Recently I was helping some engineers in the team. They had implemented some complex manipulation of data in the frontend to render the UI correctly, and wanted some help with refactoring. I suggested we could avoid a lot of the complexity by adjusting our domain model and getting the API to return data in the correct format - the data coming back was open to change.

Often, what we think of has hard constraints aren’t that hard. Sometimes, we don’t even know we are treating them as constraints. Next time you tackle a piece of work, write down your ‘constraints’ and share them around - see how constraining they actually are.