I like that term. I forget who told it to me first. The term comes from the root word brink, as in: we’re on the brink of disaster.
I suppose brinkmanship is really just a fancy way of saying “waiting till the last minute”. Although, I think it means more than that. Some things can wait till last minute and they will work fine. Like the foam in a latte. You don’t make latte foam several hours in advance. It needs to be fresh.
The big contrast comes from the fact that, you waited till last minute, and things sometimes are better that way. Even if they don’t, when there is no disaster, then it is not brinkmanship. You just have to wait a few more minutes for the barrister to make another latte. No biggie.
In contrast, think about the practice of waiting till last minute to plan and execute your software tests. What happens if you find a major flaw? You and I both know that you will have to punt your timeline right out of the window and prepare to receive whatever punishment is coming your way. There is no other choice. I have been in those shoes and I’ve got to tell you, it is on my top ten list of things to never do again. It is the worst kind of feeling and I can’t believe that I ever let someone persuade me to accept that option.
Brinkmanship is one of the seven habits of highly reckless cowboys. I promise you that it makes a cowboy’s life very exciting. Woo hoo!