New Year time is the time when people give resolutions and are particularly enthusiastic about keeping up to their resolve.
One of TargetProcess resolves for this year (another resolve is our roadmap for 2010) is coming up with more blog posts. We promise to keep up feeding practical and insightful content!
Since everything around is all about newness at this time, let's think a little bit of how we approach new tools that we use in our work. Say, you want an agile project management tool, like TargetProcess, and you're certain that you know very well how to manage agile projects, so all you need is just a tool that would replicate your model of management.
There you go: you sign up for a trial, you start looking at a tool, you take time to see what and how works in there, you discover that this tool is very customizable, but in some cases the tool does not do things the way you do them. That's the point where you can submit a feature request and give up, or that's the point where you can thoughtfully look at the way you do things and see if probably the tool guides you and allows you do agile project management in some better, more lean, more lightweight way?
Imagine that you have an axe but you're totally unaware that hammers exist in this world. You're used to fixing nails to their place with the rear part of your axe, and you have no idea that there's another tool that allows you to do the same task with the same goal — that is, to put the nails where they should be — but in an easier and more straightforward way. So, when someone hands you a hammer — you look at it and think — how do I use this thing to fix the nails? This tool doesn't chop wood at all, it has no blade, no powerful rear part — it's just a small piece of iron (remember, you're a man with no idea about hammers, this might be difficult to imagine 🙂 ) Then someone shows you how to hammer nails. You see that hammer is definitely much better for this task. A hammer head is well-balanced against its handle and it allows to put nails in place with more control and precision as opposed to a heavy axe head. Then you understand that this new tool does things in some new way that you haven't known about before. And you like that new way — you grab the hammer!
Sometimes, however, hammers and axes are mixed into one monster like this one:
You might choose to go and worship the monster praising its versatility. It's really a fine line between following guidance of a tool that suggests more practical way of accomplishing your tasks and worshiping functionality of a monster, sacrificing your working process and taking time to learn the tool just for the sake of the tool itself. You do learn something new, but is it worth while to nurture a monster, when you can take hammer for hammering, axe — for chopping wood, and see if you probably need to add a saw, pliers and drill to your set of tools?
The message is: whenever you need a tool to do whatever you need to do, watch out for monsters eating up your work and effort just to learn how they work. At the same time be open to looking at things from new, unknown angles and don't stick to old schemes. Who knows, maybe the tool you're trying out right now will help you build your ideal working process.