In the talk There is no talent shortage, Andrew Clay Shafer referenced this parable:
Three stone cutters were asked about their jobs. The first said he was paid to cut stones. The second replied that he used special techniques to shape stones in an exceptional way, and proceeded to demonstrate his skills. The third stone cutter just smiled and said: I build cathedrals.
— Richardo Semler, from Maverick,
There's also a similar creed:
We who cut mere stones must always be envisioning cathedrals.
— Medieval quarry worker’s creed
I care about building cathedrals. Personally, cathedrals allow me to contemplate on which cathedrals to build. Through contemplation, I can explore my motives and goals. Professionally, in software engineering, cathedrals can guide everyday decision-making and create a shared vision for a team.
Also, a cathedral is more long-term so that I can experience both positive and negative consequences of my actions. I have more skin in the game that I can learn from.
I've also noticed that focusing on a cathedral eliminates a whole bunch of burdening questions. A cathedral gives me clarity and focus.
This blog is written by Marcel Krcah, an independent consultant for product-oriented software engineering. If you like what you read, sign up for my newsletter