Respecting the Details

brainI had already decided I needed to write about something less technical this time around, and then a 24-year-old writing about the Millennial Retirement Plan in Time magazine caught my eye. If that isn’t funny enough, Jack Dickey (the esteemed author) seeks guidance from a 31-year-old salesperson (oops) retirement planning expert.  Turns out I have some free advice for Jack, too!

Unlike Jack, I find myself just about in the middle of my productive work life: I’ve worked the 24 years of Jack’s entire life and realistically expect to work about that many more. Perhaps that is why Jack made me laugh out loud when he pontificates that “what little employability I have comes from my brain. I’m not going to break down in my mid-60s”.

So, it turns out that Jack and I have something in common: our employability comes from our brains. And, in truth, I recall being young and arrogant and thinking my brain would continue to work just the way it did when I was 24. Or 34.  What Jack has not yet had the opportunity to learn is that our brains do change over the years. My analytical processes work differently than they once did–not “worse” or “slower”–but certainly differently.

I’m being very subjective in drawing conclusions here (nothing scientific to back this up), but it has something to do with pattern recognition: I retain less detail exactly because I recognize the pattern sooner. And, as you know, while recognizing patterns makes us very productive professionals, it is the supporting details that matter when there is a disagreement or issue.

My solution is to choose and use tools that help me record and capture details. Anytime. And recover those details any place I need them.

See, as you may have guessed, I have been talking about project management all along!  A good project management system unobtrusively keeps track of details for you and me:

  • What’s done and what needs doing, with escalating alerts if the team is falling behind,
  • Who’s in compliance–and who isn’t,
  • What version of each document or specification was seen by whom (and when they saw it).

As a software engineer, I am dedicated to creating best of a new breed tools that help others with the same challenges.  Just wait until you see what we have planned for our Spitfire Project Management System  this year!

In the meantime, my advice to Jack is: while saving early and often is a good start, be sure to get enough sleep! (His brain will thank me later.) And my advice to everyone is: give your brain a helping hand and start using good project management software to keep track of the details for you.

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About Stan York

Stan York (VP of Development at Spitfire) has been developing software for decades. Which means he's old enough to remember when punched cards where the state of the art UI. Stan makes no secret about the fact he often prefers data to people, so it should come as no surprise that he is an expert in databases and SQL server. If asked, he might admit he is an MCP, because he knows this is important to some people, particularly at Microsoft. The postings on this site are his own and don’t necessarily represent Spitfire's positions, strategies or opinions.

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