Priorities are a project risk

If you have to prioritize projects (and you do), you are sacrificing one thing for another. What happens when that starts to work against itself? What happens when you can’t just put the highest priority project on top? Can you imagine your priorities looking like this?

Playing cards demonstrating circular priorities

I see this happen all the time. That’s not to say priorities are evil in and of themselves. I’m just pointing out that at some point priorities will conflict. This affects many things, but most importantly it affects everyone’s morale, including the customer’s. This is a project risk like any other.

My current employment is at a modified XP shop, and I’m really psyched about it. I’m a big fan of XP (Extreme Programming), Agile and Scrum methods – and a big fan of Scott Ambler, too. I have always been risk-focused when managing software projects. Right now I’m not managing any, but I appreciate the XP approach because of its focus on mitigating risk by dealing with it (possible) instead of trying to eliminate it (impossible).

This is the first job I’ve had in a long time where I’ve been this excited about getting right into it and building something great in a small team of smart people. I feel like I’ve got a Maserati and an empty road. At my previous job, there was an entry on the timesheet for time spent filling out the timesheet. Here’s a quote from my present boss:

If tracking time becomes something we have to become aware of, then we have a problem.

I think it’s going to be a very good journey.

I'm Baron Schwartz, the founder and CEO of VividCortex. I am the author of High Performance MySQL and lots of open-source software for performance analysis, monitoring, and system administration. I contribute to various database communities such as Oracle, PostgreSQL, Redis and MongoDB. More about me.