July in Review

Wednesday Wisdom #WednesdayWisdom

It’s the first week of August 2020 and as South African’s it’s been a rollercoaster ride, we may have missed what happened in July of 2020. It’s good to reflect now and again, to gain some perspective. So here’s a quick review of what happened in July!

July 4th is America’s Independence Day 

While America celebrated its day for the red, white and blue, we wished our colleagues, partners, friends and family across the Atlantic #happyfourthofjuly. Back in South Africa #IndependenceDay felt more like a #WillSmith movie. We continue to wish South Africans the strength to fight the visible and invisible battles and to be encouraged by the battles already won. #FourthofJuly #4thofjuly 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

July 12th is Simplicity Day

When #lockdown descended upon our worlds, suddenly everything became quiet. As #SouthAfrica braces itself for the impact of #COVID-19 we reflect on the simple things that matter.

SimplicityDay or the KISS principle the acronym for “keep it simple, stupid” or “keep it stupid simple”, was first coined by the United States Navy in the 1960s. The principle simply put is that most systems work best if they are simple. To overcomplicate things can lead to misunderstandings and misrepresented goals, not to mention the complexity of design can lead to failure or poor performance.  

The Unix philosophy has the same approach to minimalism, modular software. Originators Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie lived by a set of cultural norms and the philosophy to the development of their technology. In short, they believed the following: “we build simple, short, clear, modular, and extensible code that can be easily maintained and repurposed by developers other than its creators.” Tackling the mammoth task of Linux this principle is what delivered one of the most influential technologies for enterprise use. 

From Navy expressions to South African political parties that promised to “Keep It Straight and Simple” during our first nonracial democratic elections; the benefit of KISS could make our lives simpler, better and stress-free.

Space Exploration Day on 20th July 

Space the final frontier. Free from any earthly virus. We waited in anticipation for the Crew Dragon Spaceship’s successfully launched. 

July 2020 was a really exciting month for space exploration not only for Elon Musk but everyone watching intently on every possible device or big screen TV as SpaceX prepared to fly its first humans to orbit aboard a new Crew Dragon spaceship and a successful launch to Mars later in the month.

What we failed to recall are all the events that led up to the successful mission to the space station. The amount of perseverance it took to get to this successful mission.

“It’s really what you do after you’ve had to face adversity that defines what you’re going to be able to do,” said Mike Suffredini, NASA’s ISS program manager, in a press conference after the launch failure Sunday. “We’ll get them to orbit and we’ll do their experiments, and hopefully this will be a positive lesson for them in the end.” There have been so many failures and those should be also celebrated for what they are.

We watched as teams of people made it possible, to realise that it’s not just Buzz Lightyear but the teams of people to make one launch a success. #SpaceExplorationDay and #SmarterTeams are interrelated. 

It’s back to clear communication across teams, processes and documentation and knowledge that determines the success of any project. 

An adage of “hindsight is an exact science” reflecting on the past, history, failures and successes allow us to learn, improve and innovate. Let’s not dwell on the past, let’s learn from it.

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by Angela Ho