Book Report: Get to Work! by Steven Pressfield (2011)

Book coverIt would be a facile take on this short motivational book to try to explain that QA should look at everything in this book and to do the opposite. This book is all about jumping into a project of some sort and how to best thwart the resistance that will come up when you try to complete it. The book focuses on creating a work of art, a book, a musical compostion, or whatnot.

Unfortunately, in the hands of an evangelist or a developer, he or she will think computer software falls directly into this realm, but it does not.

The tenets of the book include to slop out something before overthinking or before rational thought (seriously) overtakes you. How often have we seen software written like that? Every day? Several times a day? When we sleep fitfully because developers are effectively quashing resistance (that is, anyone who would say that it’s not good enough. Like us.) Begin before you’re ready. Get to work, so to speak.

While that might work for a symphony where the trumpet player blowing a flat note because there’s a misprint on the score won’t bother anyone but the purists or where a typo in a novel is going to cause a little tittering amongst the grammatically aware crowd but won’t derail the narrative, probably. But computer software is not like these things. Computer software, at best, is more akin to nonfiction than a sonnet. Mistakes will impact users in more than superficial ways.

Sure, the book does nod that sometimes you have to evaluate what you’ve learned to correct what you’ve done, but the main impetus of the book is charging recklessly forward. Kind of like when they promise to get some bug fixes into the next sprint, but at the next sprint planning meeting, they are eager to slop new feature out before overthinking or before rational thought overtakes them so that they’re always getting to work and not fixing stuff that’s broken.

I think the book probably does capture the creative mindset and motivates it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t necessarily mean that something of quality will result. But if you read it, maybe it’ll get you started on some project you’ve put off, or maybe it will just give you some resistance to the first-to-market-users-will-forgive mindset that leads to something like Circle more often than it leads to something like Microsoft.

Don’t you read it and go all soft on me now, QA professionals.

And before you ask, yes, this was given to me by a developer.

Books mentioned in this review:

One Response to “Book Report: Get to Work! by Steven Pressfield (2011)”

  1. Tom Kyle Says:

    Obviously, you just need shorter iterations.


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