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Dev Log #3 - Down With the Sickness (O-A-A-A-A)

Updated: Feb 27, 2021

Sometimes things just don't turn out like they're supposed to or how you would like them to. You can plan all you want but there will always be some things you can't plan for. Sort of.

This week has been a slow one for our team. We're nearing the halfway point of our first development cycle. In the end we will have something to take a leap off of. At the end of last week, my thought on this week were that it would be an intense week with lots of implementations and late evenings. A week where we strive to get something playable done by Friday, that we could test and improve upon throughout the coming weeks.

Instead I've been playing loads of Fire Emblem: Three Houses... oops.

I got a stomach bug last Sunday, meaning that I've spent most of my week at home, sick. I've tried to get some work done, but in the end I felt it better to rest and get better, stronger, so I could get at least some work done by the end of the week. By Thursday I was back at the office. Alone. Everyone else was sick or working from home. I tried to work but had no motivation whatsoever. And so here we are. Friday. We'll need another week.

Sickness is somewhat inevitable. It should be something we could plan for, and most smart people often do. We just forgot. But there is way of minimizing risk, making sure that when sickness strikes, or any other unfortunate and unforeseeable event occurs, you know what to do. I've done it many times for a few different project, but in the midst of all the other planning, we forgot.

A risk analysis based on many different points of view and all of your experience, as well as some not yours, is key to not become disorganized. If you've never made one, it is basically asking yourself a bunch of questions that in some way pertains to things you can't control, much.

- What can happen that you can't control or is unexpected?

These are things like, you or someone gets sick or seriously injured, or in any other way looses time with the project that was planned to be used with the project. There needs to be a plan in place if a worker for some reason needs to be fired, and one for each of the many different reasons that can happen. What if someone gets pregnant and need so spend a lot of time off? Things like maternity and paternity leave needs to be planned for. What if someone gets really sick and is off your project for an extended period of time, or what if someone unexpectedly dies? It's a terrible situation but it still need planning for. You also need to plan for loss of hardware or software. Wrack your brains together and think of all the unforeseen things that can happen, so you have a plan when they do happen. Because it can also be just bonkers stuff like you loosing your place of work because an earthquake hits or everyone having to work off site because we're all isolated due to a pandemic.... I wonder if this was on anyone's risk analysis back in December 2019...

- What do we do if they happen?

This guy should have done a proper risk analysis

This is a plan of attack. Since the things you write under the first point is things that impact you and your teams work, one half of the point of a risk analysis is to make sure you minimize the impact. Some of these things are just ways that you and the company needs to act when something unexpected happens, like make sure that your work doesn't lag behind too much if you get sick, that someone delegates work that someone else could do and look at how everything is prioritized and work from there. But there are also the question of what systems you will have to put into place for you to act? Do the person that is sick have a way to communicate this with the rest of the group? Who is in charge of delegating the work that needs to be done? This is one of the reasons that risk analysis needs to be done early, because it needs to be interwoven into the way you work, like security systems for you work flow. But there is also something to be said for putting "What happens if our security systems fail" on the risk analysis.

- What can we do to prevent it from happening, or lessen the impact before it happens?

If you are aware that something might happen, then you can plan in beforehand to make sure that it either never happens, never impacts you, or you at least have a lesser impact that it should. Having systems in place to deal with this is the foremost and greatest way you can do this. Build awareness of the risks right into the way you structure your company. Do the people in leadership positions have people that can act for them if they are sick or on extended leave? How does the chain of command look like? Are there plans in place in case of a fire? Where do everyone evacuate to? Does someone take attendance and knows who is sick and not? Who does that if the first one one is sick? Is everything you work on uploaded to multiple somewheres, if your hardware gives way or something else?

As you see, this all comes down to asking the right questions, following a train of logic to see where the holes are. It's about one lifesaving skill that ideally everyone, or at least one person in your team need to know. Think one step beyond. It can be learned, just train in thinking of every thing that is impacted by something. A meeting, is there an agenda? Who does it? Where is it? Where does the meeting take place? Are there other people that uses that place? Is there a way or need to book the place of the meeting? And so on... As a notorious scatterbrain, I know that you can train yourself in this skill even if your thoughts are everywhere.

But the things you can do to minimize the risks can also just be general tips. I seriously once put in "Stay away from kids" as a tip for how not to get sick. I'm doing a terrible job with that tip, as I am at the moment subbing at a school as an extra job. One thing this pandemic has taught us is how to minimize the risks of getting sick, and if there are so much we can do to minimize that risk, then I do believe that there are other things we can do to minimize other risks as well. Protect your computer well, work out and think about what you eat, partake in the social life of the office like lunch, after work, company bowling and DnD-sessions. Things like live inland and in places not prone to earthquakes.

Besides all of this, you will need to rate the risk according to two criteria, in a scale from 1 to wherever you want the highest number to be, I really don't care, just pick one. Or have a system in place on who should pick the number. Right, sorry about that, here are the questions: "How likely is it that this will happen?" and "How severe is it when it happens?". You should actually determine these right after making a list of all the risks, as they will impact how important it will be to deal with the other two questions. A risk that has a 1 on likely to happen might not be as important to deal with as one with a 5 (if the scale is 1 to 5). A 5 will definitely happen, so systems need to be in place quickly. A 1 will probably never happen, but could. Again, If you had asked me two years ago to put a number on a global pandemic, I'd say a 1, but it happened, and having systems in place for it would have been a good idea for companies to have.

Here's the thing. A lot of these things are important if you have people working around you and needs to be in place if you are planning to start a company with people who want to feel safe in your workplace. If you work on a game alone, you should still definitely do a risk analysis, but it might not be as elaborate as the one I've described above. Expect the best and plan for the worst, this is how you keep from becoming a company that seem to have no way of dealing with hardships. There has been a lot of these companies in the news lately, and I know that there is something wrong with their way of putting down systems and making sure that they have a safe workplace environment, among other things.

What I'm trying to say is that there are ways to not loose an entire week of work just because you're sick a few days, and we should have seen to that. Doing a risk analysis is first on the agenda for next week. And it should be for you too, if you haven't already. If you do, you too can get down with the sickness.

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