Move The Chair


Last Sunday I took my family to Red Robin (a family style restaurant) after church. I requested a table with a high chair for my  3.5 yr old son. Upon bringing this high chair the hostess simply moved an adult chair to the side and put the high chair in its place. (See Image)

This is where the fun began…

For the next hour or so I watched countless customers, servers and managers limbo their way between these two chairs. A lot of them did it repeatedly, some even carrying trays full of drinks and/or food. Finally I provided evidence to to my family that I am 100% full on geek. I got excited about the insight that this little experience game me (to the point of taking pictures)

I was simply amazed that people would allow this “friction to continue” It was a simple problem in this case. Move the chair!

I find it interesting that it’s built into our DNA incur friction in our lives without really addressing it. In real life its called denial. I know the chair was not that big a deal but it did open my eyes to our basic nature. Our basic nature follows through to software development as well.

The example of the misplaced chair provides some interesting parallels when it comes to technical debt (which is a cause of software development friction) We all have technical debt in our applications and it’s in our nature to shimmy, shuffle, limbo, mambo, and shake around these issues  whenever possible. It takes a constant vigilance to address technical debt. We must be active in our quest to remove technical debt. We must take the time to do two things:

  •     Recognize the debt. In our case: The chair.
  •     Remove the debt: In our case: Move the chair.

That’s it for this blog post. Just a simple observation brought to you by the staff and management of Red Robin :)

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8 Responses to Move The Chair

  1. Maybe the passersby were just too polite to move a chair positioned at someone else’s table? 😀

    But seriously, excellent insight!

  2. Rob says:

    Sorry, Chair Relocation has not been factored into the project budget, nor do we have any furniture relocation specialists on the team. Furethermore, there are simply too many other tasks for the existing resources to accomplish before even considering said chair. Therefore, management has decided that the best course of action for the forseeable future is to work around the chair :-)

  3. Trying to take my family (3 kids) to lunch after church is nothing but friction. Of course, I tend to forget this every other week or so and try it again. Ugh.
    So maybe we just forget about the friction too quickly? :-)

  4. Great analogy.

    Makes full sense!

  5. Sla says:

    I wold say its more like myths/believes which are protected by peoples. In a moment you try to debunk one you would be blamed for N amount of sins and evil doings. The situations when you can freely “move chair away” per say is really rare.

  6. Kyle Baley says:

    I like the analogy. Gonna try to see if I can work it into my vernacular. “Any chairs in your way today?” “Had something came up but I moved the chair so it’s all good now.”

  7. Fascinating post!

    Makes me think about all the chairs testers run into repeatedly, since the developers don’t even see them anymore.

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