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You’re not sure which phase of software development you most enjoy. Your product is switching stages, and you’re wondering whether to stick around or find a new job. You can find your happy place by answering just a few questions. Then, you can use that information to help decide whether to stay put or move on.

Step 1: Answer these 15 questions

Answer each of these questions either yes or no.

Phase 1: Startup. Or, Make It Work!

Do you love tackling a new challenge every day (or even every hour)? Are you comfortable having to tackle something new every day (or even every hour)?

Do you want to go deep and broad?

Do you consider large amounts of ambiguity an opportunity to decide what’s most important? Do you enjoy the challenge of turning ambiguity into clarity?

Does a never-ending to-do list energize you?

Phase 2: Stability. Or, Make It Work Well!

Do you appreciate having a stable focus over days, weeks, and months?

Do you want to go either deep or broad?

Do you prefer ambiguity showing up only in small amounts, and only within nicely scoped projects?

Are you energized by having a reasonable chance of completing your to-do list?

Phase 3: Sustaining. Or, Keep It Working!

Do you enjoy having a new puzzle show up every day?

Do you want to go deep into one area after another, knowing you may never visit them again?

Does determining the best approach when you have potentially little or no historical context excite you?

Would you like your to-do list to be exclusively composed of issues blocking your customers?

Step 2: Calculate your happiness quotient

The more yes answers you have for a phase, the more likely you’ll be at least content and maybe even happy there.

Conversely, the more no answers you gave for a phase, the more likely you’ll be frustrated and miserable.

Step 3: Add your attributes to increase accuracy

These questions will give you a general idea of how likely you’ll be happy in each phase.

To make this more accurate:

  1. List the factors that matter to you. 
  2. Then, make a grid or spreadsheet. Place the phases across the top and your factors down the side.
  3. Now, fill in the grid. Place a yes for each factor you expect to be present or encouraged in each phase.

If a phase has mostly yes answers, you’re likely to do well there.

If a phase is about half-filled with yes answers, you’d probably be ok there. You’d probably be a bit unhappy, too.

If a phase is mostly empty, it’s not your best option.

Your happiness quotient can help you decide

Now you know which phases of software development are most likely to fit. 

And, you better understand which factors important to you are likely to be present in each phase. 

Now you can apply this information to deciding what to do.

Which phase do you prefer? Let me know in the comments!

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