How to build software using a children’s train set

Before putting my daughter to bed we played about with her train set. I let her put it together and for a 2 year old she did a pretty good job only she doesn’t yet understand what happens if all the pieces of track don’t join up. She’s not experienced that yet. This reminded me of the design and development process. Everything needs to join up. The design. The team. The message. Everything. This takes experience.

You start out with a vision to build something which in your head looks like this:

This is happyland!

 Only when you start, what you actually see is this:

This is not happyland.

 This can be daunting, especially if someone is paying you to put it together. If this is the first time you’ve emptied the box you’ll likely get it wrong the first few times and end up like this (this is actually what Emilia put together):

This is not right. This is still not happyland.

Unless you get lucky or are, irritatingly for duffers like me, a genius, chances are you’ll learn by making mistakes. The problem is on some projects, like this one, the margin for error is tiny. Especially if you seek some funding as I think I will do.

Which means you have to re-arrange the track whilst the train is travelling around it like this:

This can be scary yet exhilarating. But usually not for the people who gave you money. They want happyland and you’ve got crazyland.

It helps if you’ve done it before or have someone who has close to hand to tell you where each part goes, as I do with my daughter, so you end up with something like this:

This is happyland.

I know, it’s a strange metaphor. 


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