Skip to main content

Choose theme:

blog of developer & bookworm benjamin read

Don't Do Everything The Same Way

As a project manager, I sometimes get a bit fed up having to make decisions about which CMS should be used on a project. This is just one of those fields where it seems as if it would be much easier to just pick one and stick with it. But there's a reason we should not do everything the same way—and it's related to DNA.

DNA is a funny thing. Take flowers for example. Given enough time, you can get a whole field of flowers from only one original plant. But what happens when some disease enters that field? It can destroy every plant you have so very quickly.

So genetic diversity is a protection against disease. By being different, there is more protection. This diversity will allow plants of a different makeup to continue even if one type happens to be completely wiped out.

With our project decisions, we can look at it in a similar way. Yes, it can conserve some resources by sticking to just one CMS and forgetting the rest, trying to shoehorn everything into one system to make it fit somehow (even if you have to break your integrity a bit doing so) ... but surely there's a better solution.

Beauty in Diversity

Carrying on the flower analogy, the one thing that flowers have is variety. Hannah frequently tries to educate me in the difference between one species and another, why they're different, and that often there are a number of varieties of colour, shape and size within each variety.

If we accept the slightly larger overheads of having to think about decisions, we benefit because we build diversity. We can often look at a project in a different way, with a solution in mind that is a much better fit to what we actually need.

I was taught this recently on a project where we're using Wordpress. A developer suggested we go with a different solution for building forms for this project. I initially resisted. Why would we choose something else, when this one solution that I always use on every other project of this nature seemed adequate.

But then we looked at the use cases. And the extra stuff we'd have to do if we used the "standard" that I'd build up in my head. It soon became apparent that it was far from the solution we needed. And the other solution just fit, hand in glove.

The additional benefit is that with this approach, we're also building our knowledge pool. Now developers will increase their expertise as they work with different systems and in different ways. This creates more opportunity for them personally, and more potential for you.

So it has the ability to strengthen the team too.

Be Different.

I've realised I have to lay off the Wordpress bashing a little bit; I do feel that I am overly critical of that system because of its ubiquity. However I'm trying to be more general here—there are lots of benefits to project managers and their teams if we embrace the diversity of our projects, and don't do everything the same way.