2016 – A Year in Review

As the year whittles down to a close, I’d like to look back towards both the highs and the lows of this year. Hopefully, I can then celebrate more such highs and try not to repeat the mistakes of the past year. Of course, it’d be great to bury all the proverbial hatchets and move on – perhaps this post (or if not this) is just that!

Service as a means to a Purpose

I have already bid adieu to doing development for other businesses as a service. The level of clarity it gave me was a god-send. I took this decision in the month of May, and it took a fair bit of time to finish existing engagements and come to a stable stand point. I believe this was by the month of October when I was not actively engaged in any service contracts that involved development.

Let me delve into this further.

When you are offering development (or coding or programming) as a service, your core service is doing the development that’s being given to you by the client. A lot of times these assignments are a case of the XY problem.

The XY problem

The real problem is X, the person commissioning the project thinks the answer is Y. So you end up spending a lot of time and effort on Y, when in fact you should have been doing so on X. By the time, you, the developer figure out that X should be solved and not Y, it’s already too late.

I do not blame IT Service providers with this. I cannot blame clients with this either! However, I definitely blame the engagement pattern that’s come to be borne out of providing the service of development. There is a gap, and we know it!

To solve this, development should be done with a clear purpose in mind. This purpose needs to be owned by both the client as well as the developer. If this purpose is not owned by the developer, then some sham of a product is made. Thus, development should always be a means to an end, and not the only service.

After deciding this shift, I have gone on to make multiple sites and apps in this same year. The last four months had me working on six sites and two apps. However, in all the cases, I was more focused on the larger outcome and not getting paid for making an app or a site. That shift is what I would be looking at when choosing new projects.

Similarly, for our promotions and analytics service, we have stopped taking on random one-off campaigns if we do not see a big enough purpose.

Blogging

There have been years where I have blogged a fair lot – more than 50 posts in a year. I have heard of thought leaders who have managed one a day, and I am no leader :)

This year, it was down to 26 posts and I hope to improve on this! A lot of the problems that I faced this year simply could not be shared on the internet, a public forum – and we will leave it at that. I toyed with the idea of using this blog as a reflection space, or as a practitioner space – and this with mild success. However, without a sense of purpose – the blog itself fails to give a gestalt of what I am thinking/working. This remains unresolved, and hence the lack of a discipline on this front.

On the Personal front

2016 was bad for my health, and one of this new year’s resolution would be to focus on living a healthier life. Something which I hope to sustain for years to come. People do not realize the stress of entrepreneurship in the early days, and health gets ignored in the process.

So do relationships.

I’d say 2016 first half of the year, I was at an all time low. It’s taken a long time for me to get over this and get back to normal. There were so many relationships that got questioned – with friends, with partners and with life partners, that it had to be addressed individually and separately before this mess got further complicated.

It meant that for days on end I stop all communications and think through the problem at hand before even talking to people. It meant severing a lot of open channels, channels of communication which I have to re-visit and initiate once again, but with a different context.

All in all, I realized that it’s easier to live a simpler life than to be over zealousĀ / over ambitiousĀ and try to do all things at a time.

Goodbye 2016

So thanks to 2016, a year which has taught me a lot in terms of what not to do. 2016 has been good for me since it gave me time to avert a fair amount of major disasters as well!

Better solve the problem than try and avoid it. 2016, has been the mother of such years.

Something tells me that this won’t be the worst yet, but that only time will tell.

PS – I know I am publishing a bit early, and know that there are a full 12 days left, but pretty please (with sugar on top) do not throw any more surprises