I recently deployed a terrible project to production. It’s always hard at the end of a bad project to look yourself in the eye and say “what did you learn?”. When the project is bad enough, you want to just move on. Forget it ever existed, pretend it’s over. But if you don’t reflect, and look your failures dead on you never grow.

What went wrong

Didn’t pause before jumping to a solution

I should have been more deliberate about testing my hypothesis before I executed on it. I went off on a solution without the full context, and missed an important detail that meant I had to throw away a week of my work. It was a real bummer

Didn’t directly talk to support agents

This issue was getting routed through a couple layers of indirect people - I should have talked directly to the support person in question, and cut out the middle layers of communication

Didn’t know when to quit

I should have

What went right

New when to quit

Not proud of my solution, but it’s done. Calling something done is never my strong suit, there’s always more work to be done. But in this case, it’s done and I can move on.

Documented the hell out of it

I wrote tickets, I wrote Mattermost messages - I wrote a lot of documentation. Someone who has to pickup the pieces in the future will appreciate that.


I did a good job communicating up the chain the decisions we made and why.

Lessons learned

Shit Happens

A lot of this project was just luck of the draw however - it just stunk! It was a domain that was poorly understood, inherited from another team, and full of edge cases. I’m glad I did what I did, and I left the repo better documented and somewhat cleaner than when I started.

Sometimes, you get handed projects that end up dragging on. That’s ok, we do our best to get out of the swamp and move on

Things get better

Eventually you get out of the swamp. When you’re in the swamp, it feels like you never can leave it. But when you get out you remember how freeing it is. Don’t forget you eventually leave the swamp!


Things get better man, bad projects happen. Keep at it!