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Part I: Group Development > Decisions, Decisions

Chapter 1. Decisions, Decisions

There is more than one way. There is always more than one way. This simple credo has been a practical beacon throughout my professional life, leading me to consider alternatives in how software might be organized and how people might be organized. But recognizing alternatives also carries a burden, the burden of making decisions. Developing better software means making choices among alternatives and, better still, finding that creative synthesis that integrates the best of several approaches and thereby exceeds them all. Well-organized teams that base decision making and problem solving on consensus have the best shot at making quality decisions and building such a creative synthesis, but they need to know how to avoid certain traps common to groups. The secrets of consensus-based teamwork are worth exploring.

I have always considered the ability to make decisions to be one of the most essential of basic life skills. There is no way to learn how except by doing it, which means that successful families and companies make sure there is plenty of opportunity to practice the real thing. By mid-career, the typical professional programmer has solved countless problems and along the way has probably made many thousands of decisions. Naturally, we expect professionals to become good at it. But most of these decisions will have been made individually, by the programmer on her or his own, and problem solving and decision making in groups are different animals altogether.


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