Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Software Engineering Maxim #20: Everyone finds their own experience most compelling

(This is one of a series of Software Engineering Maxims Which May or May Not Be True, developed over the last few years of working at Google. Your mileage may vary. Use only as directed. Past performance is not a predictor of future results. Etc.)

"We should do A. I did that on my last project, and it was great."

"No, we should do B. I did that on my last project, and it was great."

Comparing experiences rarely builds consensus, everyone believes their own experiences to be the most convincing. Comparing experiences really only works when there is a power imbalance, when the person advocating A or B also happens to be a Decider.

In most cases, simply being aware of this phenomena is sufficient to avoid damaging disagreements. The team needs to find other ways to pick their path forward, such as shared experiences or quantitative measurements, not just firmly held belief.