I stumbled across this anecdote from former Netscape CEO James Barksdale. I'm sure this concept is not without its defects, but it is an interesting way to think about things for software teams.
Well, when we were first getting started at Netscape, and I was the old man working with Marc and all of his 18-year-old buddies, it seemed like they used to love to have get-together meetings to discuss problems that could have easily been resolved at the base level. They could have just taken care of it.
So, the first rule of snakes is, if you see a snake, which is a problem — I had to explain that to one lady who accused me of not liking snakes — you kill it. You don’t shoot it, by the way, you kill it. It’s hard to shoot a snake. Anyway, you kill it. Just take care of it.
The second rule is, once it’s taken care of, don’t keep having debates about it, which is don’t play with dead snakes. And one time, Marc may remember, I cut off the heads of a bunch of little rubber snakes and threw them out in the audience of Netscapers. They loved that and stuck them on their cubicle walls to remind them. Just keep moving forward. Even if you’re wrong, just keep moving. We were so anxious to get products out the door, and we were at lightning speed, thanks to Marc and his folks, we just wanted to keep moving. So, don’t play with dead snakes.
And the last point, which is to me the most important and salient: all opportunities start out looking like a snake. If it wasn’t a problem, there is no opportunity. Because opportunities come from solving problems. So, kill it, don’t play with it, and then they all look like snakes in the beginning. The great business successes have all come from solving some seemingly insurmountable problem. Or non-obvious problem.
I'm not one for killing animals, but I do find this interesting otherwise. We definitely have a similar principle at DEV articulated as "solve the problem at hand", where we look to kill the snake in front of us, not find the solution for killing all future snakes we might encounter.
This is also portrayed in this classic XKCD...
What are your thoughts on this metaphor's applicability?