This page is part of my personal knowledge database, that helps me to store and navigate my learnings.
Read on here for details

Yak Shaving

Yak Shaving is a metaphor for getting sidetracked by often unexpected issues that reveal themselves one after another on the pursuit to a goal that is thereby continuously moved farther away.

To do A, I have to do B. To do B I have to do C… To do Y I have to do Z.

Example with the goal of running a web application that consists of three backend services. To do that you decide to run a Kubernetes cluster. To run your Kubernetes cluster you decide to dive into AWS. To instrument AWS you decide to learn Rust. To code in Rust you decide to get deeply acquainted with Vim. To run Vim properly you decide to switch from Mac to Gentoo Linux. And so forth. The original goal is already far away.

The term originates from a “The Ren & Stimpy Show” (Nickelodeon) holiday episode, where the characters stray into ever far further away tasks, ending in an absurd chain of events of shaving a yak.

The term is coined by Carlin J. Vieri from MIT.