October 25, 2018

We had a debate in the HOA last night about the budget. We agreed on a dollar figure to assess (about $1.6 million across three funds) but couldn't figure out how to split it across our 348 units.

One especially helpful member of the community came forward to point out a few small mistakes in how I'd calculated it.

If I was being petty, I'd complain about someone criticizing my work, but actually, the whole thing made me really happy.

In the first place, for having a community that cares enough for someone to come forward and do the detailed financial analysis necessary to figure out the correct way to do the split. That level of participation is rare, and especially from someone with both the technical competence and commitment to read the governing docs.

And second, I'm proud of our board for running an open process that allowed the conversation to happen: a public meeting, with a detailed set of spreadsheets showing each step in the overall calculation, that we printed, copied, and handed out. Written documents, not back-room dealings; as far as I know, a first in the past 12 years.

I've written a lot of code, and as I've gotten better about it, I've become pretty compulsive about readability: taking a big, complicated process/calculation with a bunch of intermediate steps, and structuring it in such a way that others can follow it. It's really satisfying to have someone come in, read what you've done, and even find a small error in it.

Nobody wants errors, but the real victory is setting things up so that the errors are easy to locate.