True story: One of my favorite single-person software developers, Mike Trigoboff in Portland, OR, was working for me on a new product a few years ago. I asked him how the project was going.
“Well enough,” he answered, “no dragons yet.”
“What?” I guess he thought I knew the expression, but I didn’t.
“Well you see,” he explained, “It’s like when Columbus set out sailing west towards what he hoped was India. All the time he was sailing west he had his plan and his calculations and what he thought would happen, but, in the back of his mind, most people thought that he was going to drop off the earth and fall into the mouths of dragons.”
“Software development is like that. You think you’re going to reach land, but it’s possible you’ll just fall off the end of the earth, into the mouths of dragons.”
I’ve been dealing with personal computer software and Web and SaaS (Software as a Service) software now for almost 30 years. I like the dragon story. Sometimes you DO fall off of the earth and get eaten by dragons. Meaning the software you’re developing should have made it, but won’t. The platform won’t support some key function. It’s too slow and not going to get faster. When that happens, you have just fallen off the earth, into the mouths of dragons.