A few weeks ago I posted on Mastodon that I’ve never built anything I felt was the best work I could have done (it may have been more specific to programming, but you get the idea).
I’ve done work that is good and that I’ve been proud of, but nothing I would consider “perfect”.
Each time there have been perfectly rational reasons to do less than I was capable of. Meeting a deadline, coming in under-budget or other competing needs often justify stopping short of giving your all. But it made me wonder what it would be like to make something with a singular focus of doing the best job I could possibly do.
This might sound silly but this is a remarkably hard thing for me to do. At any given time I have several projects in-progress, and for the most part what I would consider to be “average” work is enough to meet or exceed expectations. From this perspective, it’s almost wasteful to put everything I have into a project.
Another challenge is finding a project that can keep me engaged enough to demand perfection. Many projects (even the more ambitious ones) become less interesting once I have a viable solution for the hard problems (even if I haven’t implemented the solution yet).
For these reasons and others I’ve never had the experience of completing a project that wasn’t a compromise. That’s not to say I haven’t been happy with the results (or that the results haven’t pleaded others), but uncompromising perfection is not something I feel I’ve accomplished yet.
Having realized this, I’ve decided the time has come to change that.
In 2018 I’m going to complete a project in such a way that all of the work I’ve done is of the highest quality I am capable of. I will refuse to compromise any aspect of the project for sake of time, budget or other justification. When the project is complete, it will represent the best of my abilities and the tools, technology and resources available to me.
When I survey the projects I’ve been working on one stands out as a candidate for this endeavor: Raiden.
Raiden Mark II is both narrow enough to demand the most from my strongest skill sets while complex enough to sustain my interest. It also represents a field (High Performance Computing) which has been central to both my personal and professional work for most my life.
I also think that this project is one of the most valuable in my catalog in terms of solving some of the greatest problems I see in my field.
Building Raiden Mark II to these standards is ambitious, but also within my capabilities. Unlike other projects, there are no external dependencies likely to force compromise. If I fail to complete this project to the best of my abilities, I will have only myself to blame.
This means the project may take longer than I would like it to, and it means delaying some of the things I am looking forward to in future iterations of the system. But I believe this is necessary in order to test what I am capable of and to prove whether or not my best is good enough to capture the interest of others whose contributions will be essential to successfully complete future stages of the project.
Here’s to 2018!