Best Practice Overload

There are so many ways of doing something. The important things is that you do it. And get along with the team you're doing it with.

Practice vs. Delivered Value

I think there's a difference between a practice (a process for creating) and delivered value (the problem solved with the thing delivered). What's delivered has value. The practice, if it helps in delivery, has derived value. But it's inherently less- and not independently-valuable.

Best Practices

"We should always..."

"What we're used to is..."

"What we've come to expect is..."

These are phrases that usually refer to a best practice, apparently obvious and beyond argument, but often ambiguous and not fully enumerated.

The Best?

Are there really things as "best practices"? Doubtful. More like "good practices": practices that some people like and value to varying degrees, at different times, in different situations.

A Union of Practices

Imagine you're on a team with 6 engineers. Each engineer has a set of 5 best practices that he thought was most important. Some would overlap, some wouldn't. To combine preferences into a singular team set of practices, we might union each set. We would have up to 30 practices in all.

This list could become suffocatingly-long, describing what we expect, what we're used to or what we are always to do. Long lists of do's and dont's in any creative endeavor sounds droll and life-sucking.

An Intersection of Practices

I think none of us really like working under a regime of iron-clad practices. What are we to do? Perhaps work under fewer, important ones. Instead of a union, we might try an intersection: start with one practice that we all agree on. Fewer practices, tending towards the ones we care more about. This can be hard enough.

Teams are often wildly dynamic, people in and out, leadership changes, evironmental changes, focus adjustments, constraints evolving. So, these conversations to decide practices are probably happening again and again, decided again and again. Just this deciding process can be an overload with enough change.

But can you imagine glomming on every new set of 5 practices as a growing union when a new person joins the team?

Take some time. Share explicitly what you value. Give reasons. Hear others. Make arguments. Weigh things. Create shared agreements. Make fewer, more-impactful decisions about practices.

Remember, the goal is to deliver value to a user and not best practices to ourselves.