Barnacles on a Ship

A close friend of mine spends his year between two activities, sailing around the US with his wife, and freelancing. Every year, he has to stop for around a month and do the maintenance on his sailboat. That usually involves a dry dock, orbital sanders, and scraping off all the barnacles that have grown on the boat over the past year. Personally, I never understood it. Barnacles can’t really affect a ship that much, can they?

Turns out they can.

I own a midrange grill from Home Depot, and every 6 months, I strip the grill down and clean all the plates, and pick the carbon bits out of the gas outlet holes.This involves steel wool and lots of elbow grease. When I’m done I oil them and run the grill through its paces. Every time I do that the area above the grill plates registers 100 degrees hotter than before.

It’s amazing to me — the carbon bits affect the temperature so much that cleaning the grill nets a 100 degree difference. Now again, this is a midrange grill with a midrange thermometer so this isn’t scientific — but it’s noticeable when grilling, so much so I have to leave steaks on for an extra minute before cleaning.

in software teams, it’s easy to see the big problems that slow teams down, like team cohesion and uncertain requirements, but it’s not so easy to see the small things.

These small things are the things you’ll hear occasional gripes about, like having a hard time finding things in JIRA, or a build server being flaky, or test case formats not reflecting operational needs.

if your team complains about certain problems occasionally but persistently, then these are your barnacles.

Every team needs time to clean the barnacles, and you as the delivery manager are in the best place to see the barnacles growing.

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