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Programmer. Optimist or pessimist

octocode - May 6, 2021 - 0 comments

Often in projects, two opposing camps – pessimists and optimists – meet when setting a performance deadline. The former usually predict disaster, spectacular failures and financial penalties for not  meeting the SLA. 

The latter camp, on the other hand, can already see e-mails of praise from the CTO and an increase  in the number of active users. Today I would like to tell you why I think that both camps cannot live without each other. I will also present the pros and cons of being in both groups. 

For those living in a hurry 

What you’ll find in this post: 

  • How optimists look at design 
  • Why optimists are very important 
  • The Pessimist’s Perspective 
  • Is it worth being a pessimist? 
  • A way to compromise 

Data for nerds 

Some time ago on my profile on instagram I asked my followers to fill in a survey. I asked in it on  which side they stand. Data on the basis of 276 people looks as follows: 

Optimists – 189 

Pessimists – 87 

Loved by business 

Optimists are often the darlings of business. At least in the first phase of so-called project work  planning. Thanks to optimists everything seems easy, projects become uncomplicated and all  arrangements have long been clear to the whole team. One can get the impression that optimism is  greatest in people who are the shortest in the project. No awareness of the risks, the hordes of ifs  waiting around the corner and the so-called “workarounds” applied. In fact, if you subtract these  factors, even a medium-sized change may seem simple, quick and pleasant. As a rule, however, life  verifies us in express mode. 

It seems to me, however, that even a very experienced programmer has the opportunity to remain  optimistic. Maybe even should? And if we think about it in a scientific context? If Edison had been  a pessimist, he would not have invented the phonograph to this day. I can bet that there must have  been optimism in every inventor’s mind. The belief that it will work, even though others say  otherwise. Optimists, then, are the perfect driving force for further project development. For them,  anything is possible and anything can be done, you just have to want it. Does this mean that  pessimists are a brake on development? Nothing could be further from the truth. Continuing the  automotive analogy, I would say that they are rather a traction control in the project.

In my opinion, being an optimist has one big plus. Usually people like working with us because  they prefer to hear the candy version of events. We then seem more open, motivated and focused on product development. However, this comes with a huge risk. If our optimism leads to failure, we  can very quickly lose our image and respect among other team members. Nobody likes to hear the  words “I told you so”. 

We’re heading for the abyss 

All right … let’s lower the saturation to zero for a moment. Let’s see how pessimists see the project.  For them even adding console.log(‘hello’); can cause a global crash of the whole system. Everything seems very complicated. Everything costs money and takes a lot of time. Am I the only one who  smelled the scent of the aforementioned experience here? It is important to remember that concerns  from rules have some basis. Maybe the pessimistic programmer is aware of real threats that others  have forgotten about? This is easy to distinguish, however. Just ask one question – “why do you see  it in dark colors”? 

In case we do not receive a concrete answer, then we are dealing with an example of an ordinary  pessimist. Sometimes we also meet such people for whom everything is a problem. However, when  we receive a specific answer, we have two choices. We can give a counterargument, so that the  pessimism has no logical basis and is refuted. Accept the other side’s argument and share their  concern. It is possible that a real problem exists and will actually negatively affect the performance  of the task. 

Pessimists at first glance may seem like a less attractive group in terms of their attitude. If you  constantly see everything in dark colors, you can quickly discourage your coworkers from taking  action. On the other hand, if this attitude keeps the team from wading into the abyss, you can  quickly become a very important voice when planning the team’s work. 

Happy medium 

I don’t know about you, but in my opinion, the vast majority of problems can be solved through  conversation. If we add to this a focus on arguing our point of view, we can always find a  compromise. So it’s worth listening to both optimists and pessimists. Analyze why their attitude is  exactly the way it is and make an appropriate decision. 

Let’s get carried away by the motivation and energy of the optimists, while keeping the sanity and  cool head of the pessimists.

Octo Codello

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