Dream inspired team symbolism

Dream inspired team symbolism

By Jean-Michel Lavarenne

Sometimes we face difficulties on complex projects. For example, one of our clients may have a vision of new functionalities, and a description of the objectives they want to achieve, but the path from here to there is for us to figure out. This can require modifying data structures in order to use them in new ways, changing or modifying behaviors of existing features, or any kind of work which results in significant and impactful change to the structure and behavior of the software.

A few years ago we faced one particular such moment. The software was big and had a lot of interdependently connected moving parts. The objective was lofty. It was our job to come up with a plan for getting there and implement that plan. The technical dimension is rarely the problem. Given enough time, we can accomplish anything. But of course, time is money and both are limited.

The secret to success in these kinds of situations revolves around good communication and trust. We have to very clearly understand our client's objectives so that we can explain what needs to be done to get there and how much effort it will require. We need to answer how much it will cost, when it will be finished, and why. We have to be able to talk to the client about technical debt that hinder our progress and slow us down. We need to be able to come up with strategies that achieve the objective within budgetary and time constraints, and to be able to clearly explain what trade-offs are involved with all the options we propose so that we can deliver the goods under all the constraints. And we need to make sure that the clients, often laypersons when it comes to software, are well informed so that they can make the best decisions.

In the context of the project I am referring to, the challenges were important and it was causing me a certain amount of stress. This kind of stress often translates into my dreams.

The project manager and I were standing next to a table with a map of the world, centered on Europe. She was wearing a military uniform of the 18th century style, a full dress coat with epaulettes and bicorne hat. The conversation was about an extraterrestrial enemy that was attacking the empire with flying saucers. At our disposal to face the onslaught was the British navy of the 18th century, the man-o-wars and sail ship frigates with gunpowder cannons.

"How will we deploy the navy to best defeat the invader?" asked the project manager. That was my task. "Man, what a hard project this is", I thought, feeling the pressure of making decisions on which the survival of the empire depended, and feeling the responsibility for the lives of all those soldiers.

I woke up puzzled. "Wait, I thought, that is not really what that project is about". And suddenly the software project I was facing did not seem so difficult, by comparison. That morning I told my team about the dream and we had a good laugh. The dream made its way into our company culture. Sometimes when facing a tough project one of us will say "At least it is not as hard as that time we had to shoot flying saucers out of the sky with cannonballs on those sail ships".

That is my team for you. If we have to fight off an alien invasion with 18th century sail ships, we will welcome the challenge.

Contact us to find out how such a team can help you with your projects.