Prevention: one apple a day.

The second law: prevention | Zen and the Art of website Maintenance

We’ve already talked about the first law, learning trough errors, build up experience!

The second law, comes as a consequence of my really long experience in making mistakes. That’s it, really long!

The second law states about prevention:

2. Don’t create the problem

There are many creative and, more or less, funny ways to create a problem:

  • The one I hate the most is related to promising something you can’t achieve. There are limits, technology limits, human limits or time related limits, do not promise stuff beyond these limits, you are adding a problem to a problem. Do not promise things you can’t achieve! Never!
  • The most creative way to generate a problem is trying to make things differently even when in the end you are making things more complicated. If it works well maybe its the right time to spend your energy and you efforts on something else. If wheels have always been round there is a reason, do not try to change the way they works if they are already simple to make.
  • The least creative way is letting things happen, being idle, while the world changes. The world changes fast, the web even faster, try not to be lazy on that update that you have to make on the server, if you let it be you know what is going to happen next: performance loss, crashes, ecc. Problems you didn’t need.

I promise you that someday, if you want, we will have a chat on my brilliant ideas, ideas and mistakes so creative and out of the box that totally screwed me up when it came the moment of implementation, problems created by my “not-so-zen approach”. For now this trio builds up a good resume of what is not prevention. Today anyway I would like to stick on the first instance, the one related to promising beyond limits.

Let’s talk about language: “If you can’t solve it it’s not a problem, it’s called a limit“. The best attitude in front of a limit is to try to teach your customer, or yourself what it is and how the limit works. Think about gravity for example, everyone knows how gravity works, and no one really sees gravity as an issue, it’s a limit that we came to understand as a part of our environment. You have to be sure that who asks you for a solution is able to understand what you can’t do and why you can’t do it, it’s a matter of culture and education. After recognizing that what you’re facing is not a problem, but a limit, the problem is gone.

Don’t forget also that sooner or later, after we understood the limits that gravity impose to us, someone came finding a way to work around it, inventing airplanes.

Work around, sounds familiar? Looks like it’s already time to talk about the third rule. We will, next week, on this blog.


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