So, a guiding and very freeing philosophy at my former workplace was “make mistakes faster”.
It is part of the iterative and incremental philosophy of development. Instead of doing a huge waterfall process where the team works for months building the perfect design, architecture code, whatever, we should work iteratively and incrementally–deliver paper prototypes, functional prototypes, deliver something that can be responded to before the entire thing is built.
The idea is we’ll make lots of mistakes in our work–so let’s get them out of the way as soon as and as cheaply as possble with quick prototyping, lots of communication, and an attitude of exploration. Let’s invest in small working pieces and get feedback sooner. Essentially, to solve a problem, try the simplest thing that could possibly work before investing in the perfect solution.
So, I was intrigued to read in Stumbling on Happiness that “make mistakes faster” is scientifically shown to be better for our mental health. It seems that our minds are good at compensating for “sins of transgression” but much less good at compensating for “sins of omission”.
Indeed, in the long run, people of every age and in every walk of life seem to regret not having done things much more than they regret things they did….The irony is all too clear: Because we do not realize that our psychological immune systems can rationalize an excess of courage more easily than an excess of cowardice, we hedge our bets when we should blunder forward. (p. 179 Stumbling on Happiness)
So, what is good for our software development projects is good for our brains and well being. Good news! Let’s blunder along now….