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Yak shaving

Yak shaving

Yak shaving definition

Yak shaving is a term used to describe a simple problem, task, or activity that is unnecessarily complicated. Often used among programmers to refer to a series of minor, seemingly unrelated tasks that must be done before the main problem can be solved. Large organizations with multiple teams and many employees are more likely to deal with yak shaving than small businesses and startups.

Yak shaving example

  • 1. You need to change the banner on your company’s website.
  • 2. You don’t have the login credentials so you ask the admin to give them to you.
  • 3. It turns out you must set up a particular password manager to get them.
  • 4. The password manager requires 2FA, so you must download an authentication app and set it up.
  • 5. You get the credentials, but the banner has a typo in it. You must find the person on the design team who made it and ask them to fix it.
  • 6. The person is on holiday, so their teammate agrees to help. They can’t find the AI file.
  • 7. Ad infinitum

Further reading

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