While we're here, we might as well...

Unlike in the physical world, few physical constraints prevent us from delivering software in small batches.

“We’re already here, so we might as well…”

Have you ever said something like this?

This is an example of “batching”.

My wife and I live in Europe. My parents live in the midwest United States. My wife’s parents lives in Guatemala.

Flying across the ocean and changing time zones is a non-trivial price to pay for visiting family. So we tend to batch our holidays. That is to say, when we visit the US, we try to also visit Guatemala. “We’re already here (in the Americas), so we might as well visit the rest of our family….”

This phenomenon was made worse by a combination of COVID travel restrictions, and the birth of our firstborn whose passport was delayed. So earlier this year we took a long trip to both Guatemala and the US. Nearly three months.

During COVID, our longest trip away from home was about 5 days, to northern France. A comfortable day’s drive away. Why didn’t we do the same thing in France? “While we’re, here, we might as well also visit Paris, and Versailles, and Nice… and how about Rome, too?”

It’s probably obvious. The cost (money, transit time, jet lag, etc) to visit any of those places is much lower than the cost of visiting our families in the Americas. So we naturally try to make the longer, more expensive trip “more worth it” by batching things together. We also, for the same reasons, make trips to the Americas much less frequently than we make trips around Europe.

We naturally do the same thing when creating software.

When deploying our software is a long or difficult task, we tend to try to make each deployment “more worth it”. We bundle more changes together. We spend more time preparing each one.

The trouble is: large batches are much more stressful, and more risky. Both with regard to holiday travel, as well as delivering software.

The good news is: there’s not any physical ocean between you and your next software deployment, as there is between me and my in-laws. Unlike in the physical world, there are very few physical constraints on how quickly we can deliver software, and on how small our batches can be.

In other words, in the vast majority of cases, software delivery can be made the equivalent of a 5 minute walk to the corner store. Or maybe even just a casual walk to the kitchen for a glass of water. Every. Single. Time.

If this seems like magic to you, or a pipe dream that could never be reality on your team, I’d like to invite you to attend my Lean CD Seminar, starting October 3. It’s 4 weeks of video instruction, interactive Q&A and a slack community, focused on improving your software delivery using proven techniques I’ve employed at a number of companies. It’s €189 EUR, and comes with a money back guarantee. I’d love to see you there!

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