When I hear somebody say “Right tool for the job” I cringe.  The acid in my stomach starts to churn.  My blood pressure goes up.  I just feel like lashing out or screaming.  Why do I get this reaction?  Its a simple, logical statement.  Sounds like great advice, right?  In my experience though, “right tool for the job” is often code for something else.  Its an often used, cliche excuse to hide hidden motives.  So, let me translate for you the true meaning of “Right tool for the job”.

  • There’s this cool fad new language that everybody is talking about.  I’m going to use this new language to implement a new feature even though nobody else on my team will be able to maintain it but me.  Even though the code will hard to maintain because I’ll be experimenting with every possible new feature of the new fad language I’m using. Thus: New language XXX is the RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB!.
  • Everybody is talking about this new cool No SQL stuff, but I’m stuck coding RDBMS with Hibernate.  Thus: No-SQL DB XXX is the RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB!
  • This job sucks and I need to train myself in a new technology so I can get a new job. Thus: Technology XXX is the RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB!
  • My product/project is missing a key fundamental feature that a competing, more mature technology has had for years.  I can’t say that this competing older, mature technology is better, I need an excuse so instead I say: You need to pick the RIGHT TOOL FOR THE RIGHT JOB!

Consultants are even more notorious for this.

  • I need to make myself invaluable to this company so I can keep billing high rates for myself and my underlings.  So, I will find a technology that nobody in this company has experience. Thus, Technology XXX is the RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB!
  • I need to train a bunch of my new consultants in a new technology.  Better to charge this training on somebody else’s dime.  Thus, Technology XXX is the RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB!
  • I need to drum up business, sales are lagging.  So, I’ll create a new methodology and pay some Thought Leader to bless the methodology.  Then I’ll get my best speaker to troll all the developer conferences touting this new methodology.  Thus, Methodology XXX is the RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB!

Admit it! You see this happening everywhere.  We’ve all done it at least once.  But no more for me!  Just like I want to purge swearing and cursing in front of my kids, I want Right Tool for the Job out of my vocabulary as well.  If you ever hear or see my say this phrase, call me a hypocrite.  Flame me.  Chastise me.  Remind me of this blog!