How do you handle knowing "It Could Be Better"?

Subject: How do you handle knowing "It Could Be Better"?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 9 Oct 2002 09:04:12 -0400

John Posada reports: <<3 months into the project, 1200 pages and four books
in, and they are thrilled with what they see at this point...and I still
have about 2 months to go.>>

400 "thrilling" pages per month with a ridiculously complex project and
you're not happy? Is there a problem I somehow missed in your message? <g>

<<OTOH...every day I address some section of the doc set, I become more and
more depressed. Why? Because -I'M- not thrilled. I know that regardless of
what I have to this point, it could be so much better if I understood the
application to greater depth...lead-developer depth.>>

It sounds like you're doing all the right things to get up to speed on the
application, and keeping in good contact with the developers. Keep doing
those things. You've been around long enough in this job to be doing
competent docs the first time out, witness the fact that your managers are
"thrilled". There's nothing wrong with wanting to be better--in fact, you
should never get complacent--but for the moment, I'd say you should get over
it and be happy with what you're doing. When time permits, improve. In the

<<I discussed this with my boss after the meeting today. His response? "We
want the best you can do. This system is a result of 20 different
application teams from 20 different companies, working independently of each
other at different times over a three year period...NOBODY knows everything
about it. We're not looking for perfect...we're looking for a sold base upon
which we can build">>

Pay attention to your boss. Most of us have enough trouble trying to master
the work of one development team. Why do you think you should be able to
master the work of 20? If your boss doesn't pretend to know everything--and
it's his job to know everything--how realistic is it to expect yourself to
know more?

<<How do YOU handle you just push on and know that even if it
isn't to your standards, it is to the client?>>

I do my best under the circumstances, recognizing that sometimes
circumstances prevent me from doing as well as I'd like to do. I've
participated in a few projects over the years that, done right, could have
won awards at STC competitions. Because of various compromises (design by
committee, ridiculous deadlines), I've never submitted the results. They
made the client happy, but I knew I could've done better. Sometimes a happy
client is enough, particularly if you can figure out how to do better next

--Geoff Hart, geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada
580 boul. St-Jean
Pointe-Claire, Que., H9R 3J9 Canada
"User's advocate" online monthly at
"By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is
noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience,
which is the bitterest."--Confucius, philosopher and teacher (c. 551-478

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