Friday, November 18, 2011

What we can learn from the Swedes.

If you have your head in the clouds you'll keep tripping over pebbles. If you are only looking out for pebbles you'll lose your way. You have to watch the horizon without losing focus on here and now to make sure that you are going in the right direction without tripping over forgotten details.

The same is true in almost all aspects of software development - be it the technical development environments, the project process, documentations, testing, whatever... You have to make sure that you are not just fighting fires all the time but at the same time you can't ignore the smoldering embers you have or a fire might just break out. You have to maintain the situation while at the same time looking forwards and making sure that everything you do carries you further towards (and not away from) your goals.

Thinking about this subject reminded me of the Swedish word "lagom". As any Swede will proudly tell you this word does not have an exact translation in most other languages. It means something like: "just right", or "exactly enough, not too much nor too little." It is often used to refer to having the perfect amount of something and may be replaced by a combination of "in moderation", "in balance", "optimal" and "suitable". In software development we use the concept of lagom very often. It is, I would claim, the aim of us to be "lagom" in our planning, design, maintenance, all forms of testing and system documentation.

In nearly everything I do at work I have this concept of "lagom" to successfully steer my thinking. It is a wonderful concept and is extraordinarily helpful in everything from strategic planning to day to day operations.

And, as with all things Swedish it can be used wonderfully sarcastically such as in the phrase "lagom fun", to describe something that really wasn't that much fun at all (you can't really have too much fun).

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