Jeffrey L. Bromberger, Senior Pontificator
29 July 2021
NB: A version of this article appeared several years ago on a previous employer’s web site. It has been updated and re-posted, saved for posterity.
A weekend trip to the High Plains region made me think about the way we, as consultants, deal with customization requests. Come along and I’ll share a story.
I’m driving up towards Wichita Falls from Fort Worth, and this is my first visit to this part of the state. And I am just amazed at the absolute flatness of it all. You can see all the way from here to what seems like almost the edge of forever. There’s not much to break up the view, truth be told, as the trees have all disappeared from the plains. OK, my hayfever tells me that yes, those are 12 foot high rag weed plants, growing big and happy. No matter, you start the drive in the city and suddenly it hits you that the scenery’s changed. Except for the big rigs and the occasional coal train, there’s nothing taller than a cow to block your seemingly eternal view. And in the middle of your reverie, they come from out on the horizon like the alien crafts of War of the Worlds. They. As in wind turbines. To some, they’re an architectural wonder. I see them as a necessary evil – we need the power to make our modern lives work – and a blight on our country’s natural beauty. Did they have to be such an eyesore? Couldn’t we find a better way to get the job done without marring the vista at sunset.
You don’t want to be known as Mr. Quick and Dirty – that’s a hard reputation to get away from.
And here’s where my story comes together. When you’re called upon to customize systems for a particular client, how many of us do what’s expedient (as opposed to elegant) just because it saves an hour of time? It’s always easier to do a “quick and dirty” right now than to take the time to examine the functional environment and devise an elegant solution that fits in harmoniously. You say to yourself that they’ll never really notice or complain – it’s all you needed for the situation at hand. Time to move on to bigger and better things. But isn’t that sort of the same sort of thinking that got us those steel towers? The need for clean power today seemingly overshadows the need to live in harmony with the natural order?
You don’t want to be known as Mr. Quick and Dirty – that’s a hard reputation to get away from. Before you go running for that fast hit, take the time to consider the complete environment and come up with that professionally built solution that not only meets the customer’s requirements, but doesn’t pollute the system you’re working on. Even if it isn’t put into words, your customer will thank you for your effort to keep things beautiful.