What is the one common denominator for any success story that has ever been told? To put it different: What does Steve Jobs, Adele and Serena Williams have in common? In order for them to succeed they had to continuously work on their crafts. No one became successful overnight, even though it appears like it for some. So, something that is true in every other aspect is also true for software development. In order to build a great product, continuity is needed in the development team. Afterall Rome wasn’t built in a day!
We have all read somewhere about how every journey begins with the first step, how small steps add up to big results and even though these are often quotes from some annoying Instagram motivation pages – there is a lot of truth behind it. Small steps can create a valuable habit which will help to achieve those big ambitious goals. For development teams this means to rethink their Pull request size. Managers should actually appreciate small commits to large pushes into the code base.
Huge Pull Request can actually pose numerous problems. First the review time is outrageous. Even though review is crucial in every development process, it’s not the most enjoyable part. Keep this small so the reviewer doesn’t have a mental breakdown when faced with 500 lines of code.
Second big additions are more likely to involve bugs. This means the code will be sent back to get a do over, which will again cost valuable time. Also, a huge pull request is more likely to break things. To put this in a metaphor, carry a small stone at the time instead of breaking your back while lifting the entire house.
Big commits obviously take longer to write than smaller ones, which is the third problem with huge pull requests. In the time when the code is written and the whole thing is reviewed, there aren’t any new features that get delivered to the user. The product will therefore seem to be a static one which is often less sexy than one that continuously releases new stuff.
For almost every project momentum plays a crucial part in keeping everyone motivated and on track. In order to achieve this flow feeling, small steps everyday are better than one big leap every month. Keep this feeling alive by encouraging small commits. Momentum can get you to places you never thought you could reach.
Another great thing about continuously working on something and breaking down the big goal into smaller steps? No more feeling overwhelmed. This will also boost the teams confidence, since small steps often appear a lot more attainable than going for the big goal straight away.
An additional perk about small commits? They help everyone stay on track. When the task can be done in about an hour, it’s much more likely that the developer just powers through it. This will decrease procrastination and will also result in less multi tasking, which can also be a big productivity killer.
So in conclusion size does matter. But actually in a completely different way. Smaller commits can lead to a more effective way of working and can result in a better workflow. Embracing continuity is the best way to push your team and to build a great product.