Master the Immutable Laws

"Force equals mass times acceleration." — Sir Isaac Newton

It is much easier to stand with lighthouse courage when you have mastered the immutable laws that govern your field of expertise.

Consider the case of engineer who was presenting to the manager who was obsessed with speed. The manager insisted that a number of quality steps be cut to increase the speed to the customer.

The engineer responded with "I understand your goal. Speed is critical to you and our customers. Here is how we are maximizing our acceleration." With knowledge of the laws and with data from previous projects, the engineer showed that cutting these steps would make the project take anywhere from 30% longer to 3 times longer. He then demonstrated with confidence and detail the steps being taken to achieve speed to value.

The manager thanked the engineer. He was absolutely convinced the project was in capable hands and said so. Also note that the project delivered on time with a quality that delighted the customers.

The engineer knew with great depth a number of the immutable laws that underly software development. Here are 3 examples.

  • Software rusts. In other word, technical debt will happen and it will slow your project. Mastering the underlying physics of this law empowers teams to long term excellence. I have a video about this!
  • Design is key. A better design generally leads to better code, which leads to better quality, which leads to better, faster results. This of course relies on understanding what good design is!
  • Cost of quality is the governing factor of speed. This is the law the engineer used to ensure the best plan. In other words, the greater the cost of failure, the slower the speed of the project.

Would you expect a rocket scientist to be a master of Newton's Laws of Motion? Would you want to ride on the rocket of their design if they didn't?


Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,
ALAN WILLETT