Lessons Learned in Projects

This post originally appeared on October 1, 2010 on BetterProjects.net.

While Kevin Kelly’s opinions and mine tend to differ on the merits of homeschooling, I have to give the man kudos for the lessons he taught his 8th grade son during a year of homeschooling. The list of lessons learned at the bottom of the article make for fascinating reading, not only for 8th graders, but for those of us who work in projects as well. I would even suggest that a year of homeschooling is a project!
  • Every new technology will bite back. The more powerful its gifts, the more powerfully it can be abused. Look for its costs.
  • Technologies improve so fast you should postpone getting anything you need until the last second. Get comfortable with the fact that anything you buy is already obsolete.
  • Before you can master a device, program or invention, it will be superseded; you will always be a beginner. Get good at it.
  • The proper response to a stupid technology is to make a better one, just as the proper response to a stupid idea is not to outlaw it but to replace it with a better idea.
  • Every technology is biased by its embedded defaults: what does it assume?
  • Find the minimum amount of technology that will maximize your options.
These are lessons I try to instill in my analysts and ones I hope you follow as well. Here are some others that I use as well:
  • Documentation is necessary, but you don’t have to use it as a club.
  • Know who holds power and who holds authority. They are not the same thing.
  • In every software release, try to include at least one thing that your users will love you for changing.
  • Those new pieces of technology you are continually mastering? Use them as teaching platforms for your users. Cultivate the image of a technology master and people will believe you are a master of other thing as well.