Shahzad Bhatti

November 14, 2006

Courage

Filed under: Computing — admin @ 10:26 pm

Courage
One of core practices of agile methodologies such as XP is courage. In
almost every company I have worked with, you have to deal with endless
pressure from managers or customers to meet ridiculous deadlines or
expectations. Courage is standing up for such nonsense. I heard similar
message from Ken Schwaber. However, in most places people tell their managers
or customers what they want to listen. And if you try to speak up against
impossible timelines, then your loyality or commitment is questioned. Also,
in order to meet these deadlines, you end up sacrificing quality and
while code becomes unmanageable. I have seen countless examples, where
a software product starts small, probably written by average joe programmer
and the software becomes a hit and more features are piled up. Soon, the
whole systems becomes unmaintanable and adding new features becomes very
costly. Finally, manager starts rewrite project. The new project starts
with great expectations and adds a lot more wishlist, which adds more work
than time. In the end, programmers try to finish the project with same
hacks and they go back to first situation. Instead of costly rewrites,
agile methodologies encourage high quality and refactoring to keep the code
fluid. This takes courage both from development, management and customers.

Unfortunately, my real life experience has been like most people where you
are given a date and features without any estimate and negotation. I have
worked for a number of fortune 100 or fortune 500 companies and development
in all these places is pretty much same, i.e., you feel powerless when you
are dealing with unrealistic timelines. And despite the fact that you want
to do good job by writing good quality code with decent coverge (even with
overtime), often you are forced to sacrifice all that.

I have been also reading Mary Poppendieck‘s Implementing Lean Software Development. She also talks about companies who last longer than
other companies and key difference is that long lived companies focus on
long term benefits and quality cost more in short term, but gives more long
term benefits.

See Agile Methodologies Under the Hood

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