I went on a kayaking trip with some friends. We stopped and looked at the first rapid on the first river from the bridge. I distinctly remember saying, “It looks good from here.” And it did. What I didn’t see was around the corner. The river bed narrowed, the rocks got closer together, and paddling became, well, much more interesting.

At the bottom of the third rapid, there were three paddlers on the shore in various stages of “where’s my gear?” Everyone was safe, and with a little time, we found all the gear. The river widened, the rocks got further apart, and everyone made it to the take out.

As I thought about the experience, the parallels to software projects struck me.

  • Some people had more skills than the others.
  • We could see the start, but didn’t know all the problems we’d find along the way.
  • Everyone on the team knew how to take care of themselves.
  • When someone got in trouble, other people would help out.
  • We moved as a group, although different people lead at different times.
  • We all got to the finish.