found drama

get oblique

Tag Archives: innovation

re: Peter Bell on “Innovation Debt”

by !undefined

“Just as technical debt can kill a code base by turning a green field project into a big ball of mud, innovation debt can kill an engineering team – moving them from a cutting edge crew to a group that’s barely competent to maintain a legacy app.”

Peter Bell, Innovation debt

There’s the argument that “innovation debt” is just another form of technical debt — that the latter isn’t just the tests you didn’t right, but the opportunity costs of not exploring alternatives.

What I like about this post is that, assuming you take a measured approach here, you can use a combination of these techniques to keep engineers interested and happy. You can give people the room to explore some new technologies and maybe, if those technologies actually are good choices, then by all means bring them into the stack.

That being said, it’s almost too easy to read Bell’s post and use it as a justification for your own Magpie Syndrome. A “culture of learning” is great — but recognize that your exploration can also lead to another, equally valuable bit of knowledge — the knowledge that after exploring some new piece of technology, that it’s actually not a good idea to move forward with it. Trying new things is fine — and you should explore alternatives — but sometimes your innovation is “add Java 8 streams” and not “rewrite everything in Scala”.

I also feel like it’s worth calling out (for the tech leads in the audience) that not everyone wants to do shiny new stuff all the time. (See also: Matt Asay’s thing re: “developers calling it quits on polyglot programming”.) “Innovation debt” as Bell describes it sounds like it goes a couple ways: the “explore innovative shiny new things” way, and the “double-down on what you have and make sure your engineers know their shit” way. Ignore both at your peril.

Linkdump for March 16th

by Rob Friesel

Silicon Valley’s Youth Problem Written by Yiren Lu for; such a great piece. This pull quote doesn't quite summarize it, but it comes close: Since the acquisition, Biswas, who is 32, has fought to retain the spirit of the vanguard, but his struggle reveals an implicit fear — that young engineers might be willing […]

Linkdump for November 17th

by Rob Friesel

Chrome: Easier Web App Debugging With Multi-User Profiles Addy Osmani: I'm sure most of you know about this… No, Addy. No we did not. But that looks great, thanks for sharing! (tagged: developer tools Chrome Addy Osmani ) JavaScript DocumentFragment Short-ish piece on David Walsh's blog about using DocumentFragment. It's a bit of a review, […]

Linkdump for June 28th

by Rob Friesel

Someone is Coming to Eat You Rands: …the future is invented by the people who don’t give a shit about the past. (tagged: essay innovation ) the recruiter honeypot By Elaine Wherry. A bit long and Silicon Valley-centric, but an interesting read about recruiting and recruiters. (tagged: essay essa LinkedIn hiring recruiting ) Asgard: Web-based […]

Linkdump for June 19th

by Rob Friesel

Single-direction margin declarations By Harry Roberts, writing at CSS Wizardry: I’m not sure how I arrived at this rule, but I’m really glad I did and I would likely never ever change it. The basic premise is that you should try and define all your margins in one direction. This means always use margin-bottom to […]

review: Imagine

by Rob Friesel

In Imagine: How Creativity Works, Jonah Lehrer presents a series of experimental findings and narratives, and draws them together into an optimistic thesis on creativity and innovation. But there are two books here: there’s the successful book, the book where Lehrer is a capable wordsmith with a knack for describing and synthesizing these scientific findings […]

Linkdump for October 4th

by Rob Friesel

Making Laws About Making Babies at (tagged: research politics fertility ) One-Third of Sun-Like Stars Have Earth-Like Planets In Habitable Zone And (as usual?) the comment thread from pedantic astrophysics nerds is awesome. (tagged: Astronomy Science research ) Innovation Starvation Neal Stephenson (writing at World Policy Institute) on the demise of innovation. Mandatory reading. […]

Linkdump for August 10th

by Rob Friesel

What Google Could Learn From Pixar Harvard Business Review (via DF): Despite an unbroken string of 11 blockbuster films, Catmull regularly says, "Success hides problems." It's an insight Google should acknowledge and act on. Google's leadership admirably tolerates failure on side-projects (and big projects as well), but what Pixar has that Google does not is […]

Linkdump for May 11th

by Rob Friesel

Man, 30, gives ‘birth’ to his twin at The Sun (via B²) — HOLY WTF? (tagged: science weird ) The Ultimate Guide to .htaccess Files via Nettuts+ (tagged: webdev htaccess apache ) Burlington police walk the beat at The Burlington Free Press — I tip my hat to the officers; may this approach grow and […]