The mob and frustration

Or “should you split up to work on parallel tasks?” 

We had a few weeks of constantly changing topics. We worked a bit on one thing and then we noticed a warning from one of our systems that something was wrong, we looked into it, changed back to the first thing, had to wait for feedback before we could move on, changed focus onto something else, the feedback came in, we changed back, etc…

All of this happening while we had this rather big undertaking looming in the background on which we worked in between the other tasks. Something important that we need to get done but without being urgent. We need to get to it though, otherwise it will become urgent and then it will be stressful and hard to do a good job with it.

As we realized what was happening, with our collective frustration showing in different way, we sat down and talked about it. We uncover that we’re mostly to blame ourselves since we’re trying to be forthcoming to a lot of different stakeholders but we could actually be better at prioritizing. Since a lot of the things that we have been doing have not been urgent and could have waited a day or two, we could have had more focus on the big undertaking while bundling the odd things up for a particular day.

With the blessing of our Product Owner, we decide to clear this last attention stealer out of the way and then focus on the big undertaking for a week.

Back at the mobstation, we start working and discover that we have two things to do: add a link to the front end and add some css to that link because it shows as white on white background at the moment. We ask ourselves gingerly if we should split up for a while. One person could add the css while the others add the link. It is trivial anyway and we’ll be done quicker. We don’t usually do this but maybe this is a good situation? We really want to feel that we’re making some progress.

Everyone is apprehensive. We’re frustrated and want to move forward. But we also believe in the mob. We believe that speed isn’t the bottleneck. We value sharing knowledge over being uncomfortable.

We decide against.

And run into issues with the simple task of adding css since we’re unfamiliar with the project. And realize that what we thought should be a link would be better as a text. And the text isn’t white, so no need for a special case css.

It feels like staying true to our values was the right thing to do in this situation because it’s hardly never a simple straightforward thing in software development. But was sticks with me most is the realization that even it had been a simple and easy fix, it would have saved us at most 10 minutes.

So it’s either more difficult than you think and then you need the mob. Or it really is that easy but then the gain is minimal. The frustration was hurting so bad, all we wanted was to alleviate the pain and for that we almost made a bad decision.

What I learned from this experience is that for me, it’s not worth it to try to gain a little time by splitting up the mob even it would feel temporarily better.



Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash