The Clean House Paradox

Apr 09, 2021 2:01 pm

Hey there!

Last week my wife and I decided to sell our home. Then, foolishly, we said we'd try to have it ready for showing in 10 days.

Now, there's a paradox I've been describing for a few years now that is in play. You see, when confronted with so many things to do and coordinate one of us proclaims, "There is no way we can get the house ready" and the other says, "Lets start in the bedroom." One sits overwhelmed and the other's body gets sore from getting to work.

Or, to put it another way—Because the whole house isn't clean, there is no point to clean a room.

I started describing this little paradox in a company a few years ago when there were a number of very solvable problems, but to the group they felt as insurmountable as cleaning the house. Small steps towards a clean house felt pointless and ineffective. So they took no action.

I often see this paradox alive and well in two areas—product and quality. For the product folks they feel like they can't see their vision of a product realized, and this feeling paralyzes their ability to scope. As it relates to quality, many groups feel like solving a testing or continuous delivery problem is so big or too hard that its too impractical to do anything.

Almost every place that I have ever been suffers that last quality one. More than likely your group does too. Just like cleaning a house there might be an ideal way to clean it, but you can start anywhere that you can and it will be better than nothing.

Got quality issues? Your challenge is simple—write one test.

That's it. The world won't change, and angels won't come from the heavens to congratulate you. Yet, you took a step towards cleaning that messy house of yours. The next one is easier.

Got a place in your group where the clean house paradox is alive and well? I'd love to hear about it!

Have a great weekend.


Ryan Latta