we’ve always done it that way

Andrea Gigante
Dec 19, 2018 · 2 min read

A couple of days ago I was listening to the latest podcast from Command Line Heroes (presented by Red Hat), with the title “Hello, World” (Season 2, Episode 2).
For people interested in it you can find it here https://www.redhat.com/en/command-line-heroes/season-2/hello-world

This 27m 57s episode dives into the history of programming languages starting from the first compiler invented by “Amazing Grace”.

The whole podcast is worth listening to, but at the end of it there is a recording of Grace Hopper stating a phrase that impacted me:

Just during the next 12 months, any one of you says that we’ve always done it that way, I will instantly materialize beside you and I will haunt for 24-hours. And see if I can get you to take another look. We can no longer afford that phrase, it’s a dangerous one.
by Grace Hopper

Grace Murray Hopper, in her office in Washington DC, 1978, ©Lynn Gilbert Wikimedia

“we’ve always done it that way”…how many times have I said it? How many times have I heard it?

  • I was in waterfall years and years ago, agile came like a storm.
  • Scrum was the norm, Kanban was the future.
  • I went from continuous integration to continuous delivery and now continuous deployment.

I am not saying that everything new is better, but we have to keep our mind open and embrace the possibility that what we were used to doing was not perfect and there are better ways to do it.

As a QA, Business Analyst, Product Owner, Product Manager, I went through several changes in my work experiences and some of them were not just a simple “process change”, but a full shift of mentality and vision.
I questioned myself and I keep wondering if there are better ways to do what we are used to.

By the way, while investigating and looking for additional information on Grace Hopper, I have found the following 2 videos:

Both videos are worth watching, there are several points she made decades ago that are still relevant today.

Thanks to those 2 videos I was able to find several interesting quotes, here a couple of them by Grace Hopper:

  • “You manage things, you lead people.”
  • “Humans are allergic to change. They love to say, ‘We’ve always done it this way.’ I try to fight that. That’s why I have a clock on my wall that runs counter-clockwise.”
  • “If it’s a good idea, go ahead and do it. It is much easier to apologize than it is to get permission.”
  • “We are only at the beginning, we are just getting started”
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