Yak Shaving Defined - I'll get that done, as soon as I shave this yak.
I've used the term Yak Shaving for years. You're probably shaving yaks at work all the time and don't realize it.
The term was coined by Carlin J. Vieri, a Ph.D. at MIT back in the 90s.
Yak shaving is what you are doing when you're doing some stupid, fiddly little task that bears no obvious relationship to what you're supposed to be working on, but yet a chain of twelve causal relations links what you're doing to the original meta-task.
Phrased differently, yak shaving is all that stuff that you need to do to solve some problem.
Here's a task. "Hey, Scott, can you deploy that web site?
Ok, do I have access? No, gotta get it. Passwords? Deployment technique? Web Farm? Scaling how? Web framework not configured? Oh, what about the connection string?
"Hey, Scott, is that site deployed yet?"
"No, I'm still shaving this yak."
Yak photo by Ludovic Hirlimann used under Creative Commons
Programming in a nutshell
* Ren and Stimpy of course, were first, but it was used at MIT in the context of irritating technology ceremony.
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