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Ed Catmull on why innovation and sustained vision matter


If you are in a software leadership position, this is worth your time.

A Conversation with Ed Catmull – ACM Queue.

Key quote:  “When computer graphics became practical, it reintroduced technical change into this field and invigorated it.

I believe that technical change is an important part of keeping this industry vital and healthy.

Yet the tendency of most people is to try to get to a stable place. They just want the right process, which I think is the wrong goal. You actually want to be in a place where you are continually changing things. We’re writing our new software system now—strictly speaking, we don’t have to do that. I believe the primary reason for doing it is to change what we’re doing. We’re keeping ourselves off balance, and that’s difficult to explain to people. Most people don’t want to be in an unstable place; they want to go to the comfort zone, so you’re actually fighting the natural inclinations of most people when you say where we want to be is a place that’s unstable.”

In my own mental model, this is what I mean by “just enough process.”  It’s just enough process *for now*; the right process *now*, and then most likely a tactical or architecgtural change, which will have its own right process for the next N iterations (in, for example, Scrum).  What works for iterating through features won’t necessarily work for taking slices of fundamental architecture and replacing them.

Cheers,

Dak

By Dak

Father, leader, writer, scientist, visionary.

Technical software development leader (CTO, VP). Excels when improving and turning around teams, putting better tools and software architectures in place, and getting better outcomes.

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