If you build it, you should break it.

If you build it, you should break it.

You may have heard, “If you build it, they will come.”

Have you heard, “If you build it, I will break it?”

This is a skill I developed over my career to build better systems. It is a skill that took me a while to learn I had.

Shortly before I graduated from college, I decided to leave the material science industry because I had a tendency to break stuff. When working with toxic substances, this can be hazardous. As a result, I changed to the systems engineering field.

It turned out I had a knack for breaking stuff there too. For a long while, I avoided working on things I could break. Yet, I found I wasn’t growing as much as my peers. So I decided I needed to do some hands-on work.

As it turns out, I was breaking stuff, and people were getting mad. They had to fix deficiencies and errors I discovered. A time came people started expecting me to fix what I broke. That was a pivotal moment in my career.

I had to learn how to fix things, and I wasn’t trained as an engineer. My undergrad was in material science. I started learning how to fix things and became more knowledgeable about the technology. I eventually learned how to find defects, flaws, and deficiencies in designs.

I turned what I thought was a flaw into a skill. I could help build more reliable systems by “breaking them.” Penetration testers do this type of work. They look for vulnerabilities and ways to break “in.” I had a knack for finding ways to break “down” systems. If I can learn why a system could falter, I can help prevent it.

My recommendation for your systems: Plan to break your system before it breaks on you.

Before you go

About the author

Originally published on Medium

Photo by Marc Rafanell López on Unsplash

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