Shahzad Bhatti

January 21, 2006

Tunnel Visioning Syndrome

Filed under: Computing — admin @ 1:47 pm

Tunnel Visioning Syndrome
In my fifteen years of career, I have come across more than one companies,
that has severe tunnel vision syndrome. Basically, the project starts
modestly with sizable requirements and a few moderately experienced
developers, but as the project grows the only area of focus for the project
remains keep delivering the features. Both business people and developers
are keen on making next release and applying code and fix methodology.
Clearly, the business folks having used to the initial velocity of the
project don’t want to wait and the project size has grown beyond developers’
capabilities.

I consider this a tunnel vision syndrome, when folks are only focusing on
short term deliverables. Though, focused attention is good technique to
deliver one thing instead of juggling too many things. However, you need
peripheral vision to understand surrounding activities and be prepared for
related issues. I like the comparison with gardening where you keep triming
it and maintaining the overal beauty of the garden. But the team is too
busy with features to focus on any kind of minor refactoring or architecture
level refactoring. One thing that contributes is lack of an architect in
the team.

Of course, the heart of the issue lies with using code and fix methodology,
that slows down the fluidity of the deliverables and the team continue
try to meet customer’s expectations. Meanwhile, the code becomes rotten,
the architecture (if there was one) becomes unwiedly. Though, people
start realizing the pain, but they still don’t slow down or try to change
their behavior. The management is clueless and keep harping on deliverables
and developers have buried their heads down in implementing some features.
All this results in big QA cycle that takes weeks to manually test features
and results in hundreds of bugs that come back to developers (code and fix).

The quesiton is how to get out of this if no one is willing to address
the hard core issues or take responsibilites. Obviously one way is to
walk out of this situation, but having been run into these situations
a few times before, I am not sure my next place will be any better.

[Note: these companies have not been small or non-tech related, but
each had more than $100M revenue and 500+ IT staff
]

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