User requests are like hunger pangs

“So, when is the [request] going to be ready?” he asks me, the fourth person to ask in a one-week period.

This, I think to myself, is probably real hunger.

“I’m working on it,” I reply, which means I’m waiting it out to determine how important the request really is. The moment I can confidently say it’s a valid “need”, a real hunger, I move it into my high-priority queue and start work on it.

It’s not that I don’t wish to help, but system/application/report requests have a tedency to come in hugely inflated, seemingly much more important than they really are. More a reaction to an itch than a true life-saving need it’s thought to be.

I like to think of requests that come into my queue as a type of hunger. There is real hunger: the haven’t-eaten-for-days-and-starving hunger; and then there’s perceived hunger: the after-dinner craving for Pringles hunger.

When a request is of the “real” hunger variety, no matter how long you try to wait it out it’ll always be there (and the people who are requesting it won’t let you forget it’s there!)

“Perceived” hunger requests, on the other hand, tend to go away like after-dinner cravings when you give it a little time.

One problem with giving in to these “perceived” hunger requests is that, like the afore-mentioned Pringles, once you “pop you can’t stop” – these sorts of requests tend to come one after another. And it’s difficult to know when to say no because each request isn’t really that different from those that came before it.

A precedent, once set, can bind you to a cycle of petty requests (“why did her request go through and not mine?”) for the life of the project.

So my advice is: wait and see. If it’s really important you’ll be sure to know.

Which reminds me, it’s time for supper.

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