Red Pepper Blog

Can vs Should: 3 Simple Questions to Terminate the Modern Software Prometheus

As a product of the 80’s–I was your classic nerd. When I wasn’t watching my 30 hours of cartoons or Family Ties every week, I was usually reading. Jurassic Park was practically canon for me in both it’s written and visual forms. As an eleven-year old, I devoured the words of Michael Crighton’s books and at thirteen I screamed with ecstasy as they subsequently devoured me in the live action Universal Studios film… I mean really, Raptors in the Kitchen? What gets better than that?

In some sense the Jurassic Park story is a rendering of Prometheus, the Greek Titan that created man, empowered him with contraband technology (fire) and suffered eternal torment for overreaching his technological bounds. Obviously this theme runs throughout modern culture, from Mary Shelly’s, Frankenstein to James Cameron’s Terminator (another shout out to my Era 🙂 and more. These cautionary tales, warn of the perils regarding what man can do versus what man should do…

As an entrepreneur, investor and business developer, I can confirm that this phenomenon is not limited to 80’s pop culture or the content of timeless myths. It is alive and well in business and entrepreneurship… and especially in software development. 🙂

There’s a particular line in the movie Jurassic Park, by the brilliant and cynical Doctor Ian Malcom, where he states, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Could VS Should. In business software, this is THE conflict. With enough resources, skills and patience, business software can do just about any reasonable processes you can dream up. This is memorialized by the thousands of new apps, software tools, websites, services and products made available globally on a daily basis.

Gratefully, cool software gone bad doesn’t usually kill you, but it does chew up precious dollars and could pretty quickly chomp your business dreams. As Sir Francis Bacon reminds us, “A Prudent Question is one-half of wisdom.” When it comes to custom software business solutions, there are 3 simple questions we pose to our clients:

  1. What’s the one thing you need your software to do?
  2. Is there an off the shelf solution that helps you meet the need?
  3. Have you built a working wireframe?