On and Against Glue Work

We all have done glue work. You talk to person A and ask for a specific field in their API’s contract, then you go back to system B and write some code to do X, so system C can do Y that’s needed by feature Z.
You make arrangements and glue stuff together to make something happen.

Glue work (including glue code) is not fun, but it is necessary.
It is necessary if we sign up to do the hard work of shipping and putting things back into the world. It’s necessary if we want to get the job done.
Glue work is that last bit of a workout. It’s that last kilometer in a marathon.
Glue work is a choice we make, we either choose to give up and hide behind perfectly rational and understandable excuses, or we push through and make something happen.

Glue work is like unclogging a toilet; you have to do it, it’s your house so it’s responsibility. After all, you get to share in all the fun parts too, you get to chill on the couch and watch TV, throw barbeque parties, and have your friends over.
It’s your house, and you’re in for the long term, for the fun parts, the not very fun parts.
The problem happens when you only get to unclog toilets. That’s all. Your job is to walk in, unclog the toilet, and leave.
No chilling on the couch, no barbeque parties, no having yoru fiends over, no sense of being home. Nothing.
You just unclog the toilet and nothing else. and then, you get more toilets to unclog, and before you know it, you’re unclogging the toilet for the whole town.
Glue work is tedious. You don’t get much credit for doing glue work; those who “built the system” do.

Glue work is necessary.
It’s OK to do it for your work, and it’s also OK to do it for others occasionally too.

But continuous glue work is like sandpaper for the soul; it slowly erodes your soul and eats your motivation until that light in your eyes is gone, and what remains is an empty shell trapped in dreams of the days long gone.
It’s not OK to do the glue work day in, day out without having any insight or a say in the parts that need to be glued.
It’s not OK to do the grunt work when you didn’t get to share the fun part, and it certainly not OK to be seen as auxiliary and never getting credit for your work.

What we need is a simple rule: If you own it, you do the glue work.