We are Principled: 4th Edition

We are Principled: 4th Edition

Myles Megyesi
Myles Megyesi

March 18, 2013

We embrace differences of opinion and personality.
We do not allow our current practice to impede improvement. —from the 8th Light Principles of A Community of Professionals

Strong opinions

Having a strong opinion about something means that you believe very deeply that you are right. For instance, I have a strong opinion that black coffee is better than coffee with cream and sugar. After many years of experimenting, the idea has become solidified in my mind. When pressed to defend myself, I will argue passionately in favor of black coffee. Does this mean that I am right? Of course not. It simply means that through my experience, I have learned that I like black coffee best. On the other hand, weak opinions are just the opposite. Our experiences have not led us empirically down the same path.

At 8th Light, we often describe ourselves as "opinionated". This means that we have strong opinions about how software should be developed. We work in short iterations because it enables more feedback and transparency. We work in pairs because it provides more accountability. We test drive our code because it gives us more confidence in our solutions. We know and practice SOLID design principles because they lead to cleaner, more maintainable code.

When I say that we feel strongly about these practices, it does not mean that we think all competing practices are wrong. It simply means that our current practices are the most useful we have found so far. Yet we also believe they can be improved.

Weakly held

Strong opinions are often held with a firm grip. This is natural. When we believe strongly that something is right, it can be hard to change our minds. With enough time however, this firm grip can turn into stubbornness. No amount of reasoning will change our minds. We no longer learn and grow from the experiences of others.

At 8th Light, we hold our strong opinions weakly. They are strong opinions because they are strengthened by experience. They are weakly held because we continue to experiment with an open mind. We do not maintain our current practices for the sake of our pride. Above all, we are most interested in what practices produce the best results for our clients. Sometimes this can be hard. It takes humility to admit that our practices could be wrong or lacking in places. But opening up to others and embracing their feedback is crucial to improvement.

We hold our strong opinions weakly. We embrace diversity because it allows us to learn and grow from the experience of others and not just our own. Otto von Bismarck once said, "A fool learns only from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others."