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Sunday, June 4, 2017

Defense is the BEST Offense — how do you apply this concept in Software Engineering?

Defense is the BEST offense. If you play sports, this is very familiar to you. I played high-school basketball and I learned that this is very true.
As for applying this concept in software engineering field, let me start by saying that I am NOT talking about developing software in such a way to protect your job; I am totally against that. I am talking about something else here.
I am talking about a mindset in software engineering that allows you to be offensive and the buzz word that describes this is “being disruptive”. You can develop software very fast, but can you consistently repeat this without creating chaos?
One real life example is the following: You developed a piece of software or a list of features and your QA and Stage testing passed perfectly. Then you are about to go to production and on the day of the production launch, the decision gets made not to launch those features for technical or business reasons. Now the question becomes: Can you easily disable these features and still launch everything to production with these features turned off? If the answer to this question is a CONFIDENT YES, then you are implementing things the right way and you have development methodologies in place that present you with a lot of capabilities and options. It is easy to say this, but this methodology starts before you even write a line of code. On the other hand, one might say “why do I need to develop the feature toggle if I can just be fast and go for it?”. I would say that going fast and taking chances is fine if you have the foundation, but without the foundation and methodology to support you, it is just reckless.
The confident YES in above scenario gives your product management and your senior management enough confidence to try different things without worrying about failing because the failures or sudden decisions will not cause chaos. I provided just one example that accomplishes this goal.
In conclusion, you are building a defensive capability called “feature toggle” but in turn you are actually providing offensive capabilities for you and your leadership team to innovate and disrupt. It sounds counter-active, but it is not.
Thank you for reading.
Almir Mustafic.


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