Samy Ghannad

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 response, then you go back to system B and write some code to do X.
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, they may not be useful or even relevant, and they certainly aren’t perfect.
Glue work is that last bit of a brutal workout. It’s that last kilometre 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 changing soiled diapers; you have to do it, it’s your responsibility, after all, you get to share in all the fun parts too, you get to see them grow up, laugh, and say their first words.
It’s your baby, and you’re in for the long term, for the fun parts, the not very fun parts, and the hard times. You get to have it all, and that - being involved in the whole cycle - makes it meaningful and rewarding.
It’s part of the glue work that holds the cycle together.
It’s what makes it worth.
The problem happens when you only get to change diapers. That’s all. Your job is to be handed a kid with a blowup, change the diapers, and give the kid back.
No playing with your kid, no making them laugh, no watching them making a mess while trying to eat, no putting them to sleep. Nothing.
You just change the diapers and nothing else. and then, you get more kids, and before you know it, you’re changing diapers for the whole town.
Glue work is tedious. You don’t get credit for doing glue work; those who “made 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 the 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 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.\

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