Evaluating Tech Advice and Processes
a.k.a. “There’s a lot of advice out there.”
Internal to your organization, I suspect there is some process that you use to evaluate proposed actions. (If not, you should look at that.) It goes something like this: Someone casually says, “Hey, I have an idea: we should do this thing!” Someone else says, “sure, it sound interesting. Please write it up as a formal proposal.” The original person writes up a doc with the idea, a little background, what problem the idea solves, risks to implement, and a rough timeline (“this will take two engineers 4 months working full-time”). Now, everyone is on a level playing-field to evaluate this idea.
The doc gets shared with relevant parties to comment and make suggestions on the proposal. Are there better ways to do this? Are there other projects happening with significant overlap? Most importantly, this doc should receive sign-off from management that this is a good idea, and the proposal-maker is given the time to work on this idea. (Or, it’s put on the roadmap, etc.) This is one ideal way that this works. However, what about advice from…“out there”?
There is a lot of advice on the internet. More to the point, there is a lot of advice on the internet that is either not exactly compatible with your infra, or, it’s just plain bad. There is honestly so much of the latter. (So, so much.) Yet, I see so many people taking this external advice as sacrosanct and immediately adopted. (This also goes for those shell scripts that people find and just wholesale copy and paste into their production flows.) Why do we presume that everyone else is more knowledgeable than us?
It’s great to find a write-up on how someone else solved a problem that you’re having, or ways that someone improved a particular process. However, those write-ups should also act as proposals and go through your standard proposal process. Are there things that could be improved for your use case? Does this map nicely to your infrastructure? Is this write-up just plainly bad?
Any change requires some critical thinking and evaluation. Particularly advice from people that have solved a (similar-looking) problem in a different context. That is the proposal that is most important to put through your regular evaluation process.