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Definition of lag issues

Every day I run into lag issues.  These are issues where something changes but the effects of the change haven’t played out yet.

Usually the people that change something aren’t aware of what the impacts of their changes are going to be.  I see this a lot in computer programming, but now I am seeing it in day to day life too.

A good example would be the post office.  A post office might open at 8AM daily.  So a company makes a rule for their employee of be in  front of the post office at 7:30 AM so they will be first in line.

Then if the post office starts opening at 7:00 AM it breaks the system the company put in place.  It could take years for that change to be recognized by the company.  Suddenly the company can’t count on their packages being first any more.  If their companies process assumes that the packages will be first other pieces could start breaking.

What makes this so tricky is that the breakage probably won’t be immediate.  It will probably take months before it starts happening regularly.  This is because it will take a while before the other customers will start adapting to the new time.

This is lag the change happens on Jan 1 for example but the breakages don’t appear until March.  What’s worse is when the problem presents 3 deliveries later.  Then it may be years before anyone realizes that the problem is that the initial drop off is happening too late.

Issues like this are very typical in IT, especially in Agile environments.  I don’t think anyone has come up with any good answers for this in IT yet.  I think these issues will start to appear more often in the main stream world.  It will be interesting to see how these kinds of things are handled.

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