The *Fast* Track

The Flow.
The Workflow.
The Chain of Activities.
The Process.

Things may happen & one day cruel, merciless & vengeful fate may put you in charge of defining how people are supposed to work. Or how are their tools supposed to aid their work. It's quite a wide topic and there's a lot to be said / written about that, but for now I'm gonna mention just one thing: disastrous anti-pattern named:

Fast Track

What is Fast Track? The need for Fast Track occurs when workflow / process participants rebel against set rules & demand for workarounds / shortcuts, because they don't want to follow the usual routine. It usually happens when:

  • process is too complex
  • process involves activities with dubious value (that seem not to add any value)
  • process is too slow when urgency is high
  • process has a bottleneck
  • ... or people don't understand that some burden can't be avoided (due to transparency, security, law obligation, etc.)

In such case process custodian / designer may bend under pressure (usually not immediately, it depends on how strong the pressure is) and introduce so-called Fast Track: the way to walk-around / remove the burden for those who want to do that.

Why / When is it wrong?

Yeah, what's wrong in addressing people's valid concern? Aren't we supposed to make things work smoothly and remove impediments that happen? Why being a stubborn asshole instead?

The point is:

Everything should be a Fast Track.

If something doesn't work, doesn't meet the needs, doesn't reflect the reality or just doesn't help (add value), just don't pretend it's all cool and "enrich" it with a parallel Fast Track - fix the actual issue! What's the point in Slow Track? Is it ...

  • ... for idiots, who didn't realize there's a Fast Track available?
  • ... to pretend you're conforming some norms & standards you truly don't?
  • ... to prove that you never err? ;P


I'm not against Fast Track, I am against Slow Track

Instead of hacking the reality, put the intellectual effort in making things work as intended. If the crowd demands a Fast Track:

  • Find out what's the actual impediment / obstacle
    • Why is it painful?
    • Can you really get rid of it?
    • Aren't you breaking any valid rules that way?
  • How deep is the problem?
    • Is your Fast Track gonna fix it or just paint the grass to make it appear green?
    • Won't it actually cause more trouble than gain?
  • Does the model you use truly correspond to the reality it serves?
    • Do roles match actual people and their duties?
    • Or are you just forcing your own, twisted perspective no-one understands?

Fast Track != Optimization

Optimizing is awesome, but if it means just creating random shortcuts without giving the topic any deeper thought, I sense no purpose in that. And I object that.

To be honest, all Fast Track cases I can recall from past had nothing in common with improving the actual situations:

Person #1: We have so many hotfixes, that we need a fast track for processing their acceptance without involving all those decision-makers, notifications, voting ...

Person #2: About that step for Role X - you know, they don't wanna do that, because IRL they don't have time for this. That's why we've added a Fast Track option for the ones who'd like to skip these steps.

Person #3: This may work when we start our work, but once deadlines are approaching, we need Fast Track option - I'm not going to wait for someone reviewing my code, I'll review my code myself.

Hopefully no additional comments are needed here.

About Sebastian Gebski

Geek, agilista, blogger, codefella, serial reader. In the daylight - I lead software delivery. #lean #dotnet #webdev #elixir. I speak here for myself only.