Fix Your Bugs First


I’ve been doing a lot of glamorous system maintenance over the last couple of weeks. The basic gist is I was two to three OS versions behind on my primary Mac, and I finally started encountering software that won’t run on it. So it was time to upgrade the OS. While updating my OS gave me access to some things, it also broke and damaged stuff that was originally pretty stable for me. So I’ve been spending the last week ironing everything out and devising a new plan that I’ll save for another day, but this got me thinking about some stuff related to our world of production.

In general, I don’t update/upgrade software any more than I have to, and my reasoning for this is very simple: When everything works, you don’t mess with it. I’ve been pretty fortunate that my studio has been a little slower this month as it afforded me some downtime to deal with updates, and that’s exactly why I waited until now to do this stuff. Upgrades and updates are dangerous.

On the surface, we see the shiny new features and joy and hope and love and whatever else the marketing department concocts. In some cases, the new stuff really does make things quantifiably better. The reality, though, is in most cases the updated software is rarely much better than what we already have. Plus, the new software typically brings in a variety of new bugs which may or may not affect us in addition to the existing bugs that may or may not already be affecting us.

Software is a complicated thing, and bugs are a reality so I’m not dogging on programmers. I’ve been on the beta side of things, and I understand how difficult it can be to nail down and fix some of these at times. But the problem we have is the software market is driven by new features so in order to stay competitive, manufacturers have to constantly add new stuff which also adds new bugs and doesn’t always fix the existing bugs. In general, I don’t think they’re typically happy about this current reality, but sometimes it is what it is.

Now, think about how frustrating it is as an end user when our software is buggy and the manufacturers can’t seem to get it fixed. So how do you think our staff and volunteers feel about ongoing and consistent issues in our world of production and church?

A lot of times we get caught up in trying to make things new and better in the world of production and church, but sometimes we do this without taking into account the bugs we currently have in our system. For example, a big place I see this rear its head is in churches moving to multi-site. If you have organizational issues before you expand, you simply multiply those issues through expansion. Making something bigger can be great, but it also makes existing issues and challenges bigger. Sometimes we miss that by simply addressing our existing bugs, we will make things better and bigger in the process while creating a more solid and stable foundation to build on.

So as we are coming to the end of the year, I know we’re starting to dream about what we’re going to try the next year. That’s a good thing, but try not to miss the things you have an opportunity to fix as you’re dreaming. What are the bugs in your world that you could and maybe should also be addressing? Nothing is ever perfect and sometimes you can only fix so much. However, consider squashing the things you can fix first next year, and then build your new, bigger, and better things on that foundation.

David Stagl

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