Reducing Infrastructure Risk


It's been quite the Monday so far. My office toilet started spewing water, a cabinet door fell off one of the cabinets in the kitchen, and I'm trying to back up and duplicate my hard disk because both latches on my Powerbook broke at the Agile conference and I need to send my computer off to be fixed. And of course, I have deadlines for presentations and articles, and the PM book I'm trying to write.

I have a theory about this string of events. I just came off a crazy amount of travel: 9 out of the last 12 weeks, I've been out of town. I realized about halfway through that was too many weeks. Oh well. But the problem with that much travel is that I don't use things (like the toilet or light bulbs) in my office. Entropy happens.

Entropy happens on projects too, especially if we don't pay attention to pieces of the project or use certain tools/processes infrequently. One of my clients didn't realize they'd broken the build in a way that required three weeks to fix until after six weeks had passed, because they only built once every couple of months. One client didn't realize they could no longer generate the documentation system until they had to produce a one-off for a quick fix for a customer. Producing the documentation took them longer than the emergency patch.

Short iterations help. If you're starting a project, a Hudson Bay Start works. On a project, just asking the questions about the infrastructure can help people see if they should try something.

In the meantime, I have more deliverables before I can ready my computer to go away for a week or two. While I'm getting the computer ready, I'll be looking at the other kinds of infrastructure risk in my office, to see what I need to fix.

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