Home > Musings, Personal, Software > Project Failure is not Personal Failure: Emotional Buy-in to Projects, Languages, and Frameworks is Bad

Project Failure is not Personal Failure: Emotional Buy-in to Projects, Languages, and Frameworks is Bad

October 23rd, 2008

I was at the point where I could visualize the project’s code, the team had gelled, and we only had a couple remaining issues. This was after almost a year of over time and personal sacrifices. From our perspective (the developers) everything was great. Then for reasons beyond our control, the project was canceled. I was DEVASTATED! Somewhere over the course of this project I had lost my personal life and began equating my personal success to the project’s success. When the project came to a screeching halt, so did I.

Listening to Yegge, Spolsky, and Atwood really brought up this uncomfortable memory of projects past.

[Yegge] some people … they can’t handle [a failed project]. They’re out on the ledge, you have to talk them down real slow, it’s usually more junior people. 

[Spolsky] I don’t know about junior, but … that they identified with the project, and that is kind of important. … People are going to be … devoted to a project that they identify with.

[Yegge] … identifying with anything so strongly that it starts to give you emotional reaction is really bad. You never know when your language is going to be obsolete or your project is going to get canceled or your favorite framework is going to be replaced. – Steve Yegge, Joel Spolsky, stackoverflow podcast #25

I can certainly relate.

My experience was a lesson learned, which resulted in a couple personal changes:

  • No overtime at the expense of personal life or prior commitments.
  • A quest for a more outward facing perspective on projects and the industry in general.
  • A need for remaining emotionally detached from the project – as well as the frameworks, technologies, and the languages that I use.
  • An aversion towards organizations that encourage the type of situation I had gotten into.
  • Skepticism towards company loyalty, brand loyalty, etc…
Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Musings, Personal, Software Tags:
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