Realistic Expectations

Chad Pytel

In the book The Mythical Man-Month Robert Brooks puts forth the idea that there is No Silver Bullet in software engineering. There will be no single advancement that will create a 10-fold improvement in software engineering productivity over 10 years.

Even before I had read The Mythical-Man Month I began to develop a theory that I so lovingly called “No Magic Bullet” (you can imagine my surprise when I finally read the MMM) that is an extension of the basic idea behind Brooks’ theme.

Essentially, in both my own business and in providing solutions for my customers’ businesses, I was constantly reminded of the idea that there is no one end-all-be-all solution to the problems you may be facing, but there is a perception that fixing one thing will make everything better. I believe that this is caused by three major reasons:

  1. You only see one of the many problems. (“If only we could do this one thing faster, everything would be fine.”)
  2. You miss the fact that there will always be problems. (Murphy’s Law)
  3. You are so busy getting day to day work done, you can’t focus on the real problem at hand

At first pass the idea that there is no single solution to your problems can seem pessimistic. I prefer to think that it is realistic. And by fully understanding the situation when faced with the many problems that entrepreneurs or programmers may be up against, you can more successfully overcome them.