As engineers, we’re always in search for the One True Way to accomplish a task, when more often I believe we should be focusing on supported options.

So many of the conversations I participate in these days center around, “Should we do it this way, OR this other way?”

Not to be a contrarian for contrarianism’s sake, but one of the answers I often bring out is: “I view this as an AND problem, not an OR problem.”

Many of the issues I see in day-to-day work center around the friction caused by the One True Way not being a viable pathway for all the possible consumers of it. Instead, I think we should in general as an industry be focused on viable pathways that meet all of our non-functional requirements around security, compliance, etc. for a given scenario – while also not resulting in unnecessary additional financial cost to the business – with the thought process being that, you’ll wind up with more supported pathways that enable more of the personas to accomplish their jobs in the ways that best fit their scenario.

Ask yourself this: even if it’s a 5-10% use case that you feel should not be supported, think about the disproportionate amount of time you spend continuously re-justifying to yourself and your stakeholders why you don’t support that 5-10% use case, when if you just did, you’d avoid this entirely and move on to other more value-added work. I’m willing to be that use case for 5-10% of the population is eating up more than 5-10% of your time talking about it.

Try this “Why Not Both?” thought process in your day-to-day work and see where it gets you. It will not always pan out, but you may wind up being surprised just how easy it is to accept that there is more than one way of doing something, and how accepting and embracing that enables you to move past a number of repeat conversations, and frees up time to move into new territory and problems to solve.