There is No Them

Lessons on leadership from the world of game development

Self Inflicted Wounds: When We Are Our Own Worst Enemy

with 2 comments

Each of us learns as a child that there are some things we should not do because the outcome is almost certainly going to be bad. We got told these things, and yet some of us have to learn the hard way, as if we didn’t really believe our parents when they said the oven was hot…

Building games, or delivering software of any kind, is no longer something we are inventing from the ground up. What we are building may be brand new, but the act of leading a complex software development process, even for games, is well understood. What we do is hard enough, and yet often we make it even harder by choosing to intentionally do things which are well understood to be ‘bad’.

Recently I was working on a post mortem for a large project I had been a part of shipping (I hate the term post mortem, but in this case its actually appropriate). In reviewing all of what we did that turned out to not work out as planned, I realized that most of these were things that we should have known to avoid – that instead of tripping up on the really hard parts we were a victim of the same common mistakes that are made over and over again in this industry.

I will be presenting at GDC Online this year, speaking on this very topic. After the show, which is early October, I will summarize the main points on There Is No Them.  I will be discussing the dozen or so most common Self Inflicted Wounds as I have experienced them, describing what they are, how we talk ourselves into accepting them, and what do to about it if you are struggling with them on your project. If you are headed to GDC Online stop by and say hello.


Written by joshuahoward

September 18, 2010 at 8:03 pm

2 Responses

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  1. We don’t call them Postmortem meetings, but lesson’s learned meeting… it’s a name that fits whether the project is a success or failure. Maybe you’ll be more comfortable with that term.


    October 15, 2010 at 9:14 pm

  2. I’ve become fond of the Agile term Retrospective over Post Mortem.

    Rich Rowan

    October 16, 2010 at 6:39 pm

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