We used to travel to Lapland every year with friends and family. Sometimes we even had a group of 20, so no small villa could fit us in. Nights were dark enough for us kids to play hide and seek with flashlights and the sauna was always ready when we finally decided to go in. Those were trips to die for!
We didn’t like the Sunday mornings at all. We had to leave and before that, clean up the place.
My task was always to clean the bedrooms with my friend. There was lots of stuff to deal with, candy wrappers, potato chips, dust, and sand, for example. Boooooring!
Once, we came up with an idea for a shortcut. We simply broomed all the trash out of the bedrooms to the corridor, packed up our things and were ready to leave faster than ever. So did all our friends on the other side of the hallway.
Eventually, my dad opened the door to the hall to check if we were ready. A gust of wind flung the piles of trash around the rooms.
We didn’t need another lesson on the second run. We bagged all the trash at once to prevent the winds of future from making us do the job the third time.
I’ve seen this happen in software projects time and again. Teams tend to play the game to their ends, trying to make sure their bedroom is snug, and at the same time giving no thoughts towards the corridor.
Sometimes it is a matter of incentives. And other times it is all about the organizational silos where the sight of a common goal got lost on the way.
It seems that everyone did their part. But Eventually, someone opens the door, and the gust of wind does the rest.
It is never enough that we stick to our stuff only. Mostly we need someone to open the door early and often enough to see if the big picture stands even the strongest of winds.