Derek Neighbors

The more I learn, the less I know.

Productivity Reasons vs. Excuses in Software Development: The Key to Personal Responsibility and Team Success

By Derek Neighbors, Published on March 15, 2023

Have you ever wondered why sometimes we say, “We can’t complete this feature because…” and other times we say, “We didn’t finish the project on time because…”? Knowing the difference between reasons and excuses can help us become better software developers and take control of our professional lives. Let’s explore these two concepts and see how they affect our ability to be responsible and successful within a software development team.

Reasons vs. Excuses

First, let’s understand what reasons and excuses are. A reason is a fact or explanation that helps us understand why something happened or didn’t happen in our software development process. It helps us learn and grow by recognizing the true cause of our actions.

An excuse, on the other hand, is a way to avoid taking responsibility for our actions. It’s like trying to hide behind something, so we don’t have to admit our mistakes or deal with the consequences. When we make excuses, we often blame others or things outside our control.

Accountability and Control in Software Development

When we use excuses that blame others or our environment in software development, we move away from being accountable. Accountability means taking responsibility for our actions and understanding that we have the power to control our choices. By focusing on what we can control—ourselves and our work—we gain more power over our professional lives.

For example, let’s say your team didn’t finish a feature on time. A reason might be that you didn’t allocate enough resources for the task, while an excuse might be that another team caused delays, and you couldn’t proceed. If you accept the reason and learn from it, you can work on improving resource allocation in the future. But if you stick to the excuse, you’re not taking responsibility, and you might keep making the same mistake.

The Best Reasons Make the Worst Excuses

You might have heard the saying, “the best reasons make the worst excuses.” This means that when we use a good reason as an excuse, we’re just trying to avoid taking responsibility. For example, if you say your team can’t fix a bug because they’re too busy working on new features, you’re using a valid reason (having a heavy workload) to avoid doing something necessary (fixing the bug). But in reality, you could find a way to manage your team’s workload and address both tasks if you took responsibility for your actions.

Science Supports Responsibility

Did you know that making excuses can actually hurt our performance as software developers? Scientists have found that when we make excuses, our brains start to believe that we don’t have control over our actions. This makes us feel helpless and reduces our motivation to improve. On the other hand, when we focus on reasons and take responsibility for our actions, we feel more confident and motivated to grow and succeed.

5 Things You Can Do to Stop Making Excuses

  1. Reflect on your actions: Take a moment to think about whether you’re making excuses or providing valid reasons. Be honest with yourself and your team.
  2. Focus on solutions: Instead of dwelling on excuses, concentrate on finding solutions to the challenges you and your team face.
  3. Set realistic goals: Set achievable targets for yourself and your team, and break them down into smaller, manageable tasks.
  4. Manage your time effectively: Make sure you prioritize your tasks and allocate enough time to complete them.
  5. Learn from your mistakes: When things don’t go as planned, don’t make excuses. Instead, analyze the situation and learn from it to improve in the future.

Understanding the difference between reasons and excuses is crucial for taking control of our professional lives and becoming responsible software developers.