Oh that’s a really… pleasingly visceral metaphor. I like it and I’m totally going to have to use this in future.
Aside: I was kinda expecting the domain to be rachelbythebay.com when I first glanced at the title.
This article is great, and it’s painfully true. The business/customer/whoever always wants the highest quality product, immediately, for as cheap as possible. However, this article poses a problem, and leaves out the solution.
This article doesn’t address how you should deal with these problems professionally. It essentially concludes in the last paragraph with “Don’t deliver squirrel burgers.” Unfortunately, this isn’t going to fly. You can’t tell your boss “no, I’m not going to do xyz in 5 weeks. It’ll take 8, and I need 8.” Sometimes that may work, but for most companies, there’s no way that’s going to work 100% of the time. Even if you’re right about the time assessment, just saying no doesn’t solve the business need.
So, I’m curious. What do you all think is the right way to solve this? You should still offer your thoughts on how long something will take, and as a paid professional, you should give your opinions / advice if possible. But it seems sometimes you’ll just have to bite the bullet, even though it’ll be worse in the future, and just hope management learns it’s less painful to trust you up front rather than backtrack later to fix problems.
Under promise, over deliver. Come up with your initial estimate, then double it. If manager isn’t happy with your estimate, you can start negotiating features. If manager doesn’t budge you can “concede” a bit of time, though I’d avoid this if at all possible because we are terrible at making estimates and almost always forget to account for things that add significant length to a project. The doubled estimate is likely much closer to reality than your initial one.
Using this strategy in the example post, Joe would have said 12 weeks instead of 6. Manager would be much more likely to understand that a 12 week task cannot be fully completed in 5 weeks and would be more willing to concede either time or features.
Great point. The only catch is that management may notice your pattern of under promising and over delivering (they’ll notice if you continuously complete your stuff before the deadline). The problem begins when they start to not trust your initial estimate, because you’re always faster than you say.
One solution people may argue for is that if you finish before your estimate, don’t tell management, and wait until the deadline. However, the question of “if that’s right” comes in to play. But there are a million different directions you could take this…
Also a good point!
Though I think one of the reasons this works, is that the doubled estimate is closer to reality than the original estimate anyway. In the rare occasions your original estimate was actually accurate, instead of doing nothing you can do things like improve the testing, working on maintainability, adding additional useful features that manager never even thought of, etc.
Doing this work will decrease your original estimate the next time manager asks for a change to this code, thus making you look even better. Also I probably should have mentioned that this strategy is probably best used for workplaces where management is unreasonable with their expectations/demands. It’s probably better to be honest if that’s acceptable at your workplace :), e.g “My gut instinct says 6 weeks, but let’s call it 10 to make up for unforeseen issues”.
This feels like the sort of thing that agile was supposed to fix. Your manager asks how long it’ll take to do XYZ so you say you’ll get the most useful part (we’ll call it X) done first and see what people think of it, then either change it as desired or start on Y next.
Yep, sounds about right. Quickly ship the MVP, and then the iterations towards the final product. Helps eliminate long estimates, and theoretically starts bringing in the money sooner.
Am I alone in expecting a squirrel burger to be pretty tasty? Some people say squirrel tastes pretty good (https://www.lovefood.com/news/57048/would-you-ever-eat-a-squirrel).
The problem in this story is that the burger is made from roadkill that had been dead for a while; the meat was probably rancid and full of bacteria and other contaminants. Roadkill-burger might be a better description (though not perfect, I suppose, because roadkill deer is completely different from roadkill squirrel).
I had a babysitter as a kid who often cooked us squirrel for breakfast, and I remember it being fine.
The image of a squirrel scraped off the pavement is pretty gruesome, but for an alternate look at our fuzzy nut-stashing friends, there are many a recipe from Hank Shaw and others. https://honest-food.net/wild-game/rabbit-hare-squirrel-recipes/
Yeah, the metaphor here is totally lost on me.
Squirrel is far more than the chicken of the trees - it’s quite plainly the best meat there is, and my favorite dish next to lamb.
I make a recipe similar to this one often. Just looking at those pictures makes me hungry!
Somehow this completely ruined the article, because for me (and everyone else I know), squirrel is absolutely delicious!
Despite the title, the issue with the burger in the article is not so much that it’s a squirrel burger, but that it’s roadkill of unknown freshness.
For me, the part where the analogy breaks down is when the customer/manager, having eaten the roadkill burger, comes back to the person who supplied it and expects them to produce burgers of known and socially acceptable origin for the same price. Maybe the conclusion shouldn’t be, “don’t serve your boss squirrel burgers”, but “if you serve your boss squirrel burgers and they come back for more, you need to find a better boss…”. However, you can’t make a career out of successfully identifying good managers by getting them to fire you for low quality work, so that brings us back to “don’t serve your boss squirrel burgers”, but for different reasons to those in the article.
Squirrels are more like rats than they are chicken. Their good reputation is due to their fluffy tails but them eating not only seeds is often overlooked.
I’m sure their diet has something to do with the quality of the meat.
If you’re off in the woods, in search of something to fill that cache of burger buns you happened upon and all you have is a stone and sling, squirrel burger it’ll be whether you like it or not. Nothing wrong with them, really, just tree rats with fluffy tails who like to plunder birds’ nests and spend the afternoon chuck-chuck-chucking at each other and anyone who cares to listen. Just make sure to fry ’m up real good and clean your hands before you eat ’m as they can host some nasty diseases.