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Software Innovation Through Experimentation

Oct 26, 2017 Custom Software Eric Potter

Software Development Experiments

Recently I heard a fantastic presentation that helped me frame some of my thoughts about some discussions we've had at Aptera about standardizing our toolset. Two of the things that we all agreed on were:

  1. We need the freedom to try new better tools.
  2. We ought to lean towards using a common toolset based on what tools have been working the best for us.

Doc Norton gave the aforementioned presentation, called "The Experimentation Mindset" . He made a great point that 'Best Practices' are by definition practices that worked well in the past. At some point, there will always be a new better practice. If you always stick to the current 'Best Practice', there will be someone doing something more innovative than you. Doc proposed that instead of best practices, we should call them 'leading practices'. 
 
This begs the question, how do we innovate ahead of the best practices? The answer is to run experiments. Experiments are how we learn. And in a practical sense, that is what we have been doing
 
So we may not all be using the same tool for tracking our tasks. But instead of this being a problem, I see this as an asset. It allows us to effectively run experiments on which tools work the best for us and our clients. The key piece of this is to have times like we had last week and look and see what results we are getting. This allows us to all learn from one another and stay on the cutting edge. 
 
These experiments go farther than task tracking tools. It applies to our broader processes, tools, libraries, and frameworks. Should we try to have a standard toolset? Yes. But should we try out other tools from time to time? Yes. That is how we stay ahead.

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