Software development and my favorite pitfalls
Over the years I had the privilege to work on some very excited projects both in software development field and also in electronics field and every experience taught me some invaluable lessons about how NOT TO approach development. And through this post I will try to point out some absurd, outdated techniques I find the most annoying and damaging during a development cycle. There will be swearing because this topic really gets on my nerves and I never coherently tried to explain them in writing. So if I get heated up, please bear with me.
As new methods of project management are emerging, underlying processes still stay old and outdated. This is mainly because we as people are unable to completely shift away from these approaches.
I was always struggling with communication, and many times that cost me a relationship or two because I was not on the ball all the time. Through every experience, I became more convinced that I am the problem and never ever doubted that the problem may be that communication never evolved a single step from emails. And if you think for a second, not many things have changed around this topic. We just have different representations of email (message boards, chats, project management tools). And I believe this is the real issue we are facing now.
There are many articles written about hyper connectivity and the effects that are a direct result of it. But mainstream does nothing towards it. We are just putting out fires, and we do nothing to prevent it. I am certain this will be a major source of grief in coming years. And what we all can do to avoid this is to change our mindset and experiment on our communication skills, development approaches. We need to maximize possible output that a person can give. And to achieve this we need to listen to them, encourage them. I know that not everybody is a naturally born leader, but with enough practice and encouragement they also can become active participants in leadership.
There are many talks now about methodologies such as Scrum, Kanban, Cleanroom and they all fucking piss me of :). These are all boxes that imprison people and take away their freedom of thought. This is a straightforward mindfuck / amputation of creativity.
Let me list a couple of things that I find really destructive and bad for a project and in a long run company.
Ping emails are emails you have to write as soon as you receive an email. Its sole purpose is to inform the sender that you received their email, and you are working on it. Its result is only to calm down the sender that their task is being dealt with. It’s intent basically is, I did my job by sending you this email, so I am on clear grounds. I categorize this email as fuck you email. This is one of the most irritating types of emails I need to write. This is the ultimate control freak show you can experience, and it gives the sender a false feeling of control. Newsflash: We do not live in 1982 where there was a possibility that email never reached the destination. I really hate this from the bottom of my heart.
They should be like: “Yes, I am fucking alive, and I am at your service my leash!”. I guess if I would reply like this, I wouldn’t have to write any more of this kind of messages.
Everybody is a project manager
Well, this is a tough one. I noticed that as soon as you let people to give their suggestions, you are basically screwed. There is a truth in the saying: “Give low expectations and deliver little more than you promised.”.
People tend to take a role of a manager as soon as they are presented with an opportunity. And by getting angry at them, you only provoke yourself. They are not at fault. You just need to tell them they are only giving suggestions and not tasks at the beginning and everything will be alright. But if you give them a feeling that they are in control, you will have immense problems explaining why their features are not in current release.
Project mission must be always leading project requirements and any deviation from it will result in major project butchering. And by this, I mean that the project will get its own path, and you will be left with half done software that helps nobody. Clear mission goals and clean execution will allow you to develop software will clear intent.
We are never wrong
I find this type of arrogance the worst. We must always conduct ourselves that we are infallible and cannot make mistakes. As soon as a procedure or process is established, there is no room for changes or improvements. This is the most idiotic thing someone can say of think. I think that processes need to involve and change over time. This is imperative and need to have in your organization if you want to improve and develop company. We all need to grow balls and change everything in order to adapt to current situations. Being a prisoner of predefined processes kills creativity.
I am constantly trying new software for project managing and communication. I believe every team has its own dynamic, and it needs to be discovered organically and naturally through many experiments. By putting the team in a box, you are amputating their creativity and therefore minimizing their potential. But if you talk to an executive, you will mainly find archetypical thinking and a strong need to compartmentalize everything from business processes to resource management. And this type of management that often displays micromanagement techniques only works for short periods (couple of years) and then employees either leave the company or become basically retarded drones on autopilot.
This basically implies that everybody on the team is an idiot who needs to have a to-do list that they cannot write themselves. How about spoon-feeding the team at launch because besides the team leader, everybody must be a retarded idiot at best?
I prefer milestones as they give developers much more freedom and creativity in developing and not waste their time checking some bizarre to-do list that was not even thought through. Projects constantly change throughout the development cycle, and all you are left at the end is a list of unchecked tasks and the wrath of management why they are not completed. Best WTF moment!
Human contact — no need for it!
We are vigorously trying to eliminate physical contact by replacing short meetings with software, with no regards that we are not machines. Many times a simple 5-min meeting at morning can solve most of the problems. In rapid development, short bursts of man to man communication is possibly the best way to go.
We now have all this software available, and all what we get out of it is a giant clusterfuck. An obstacle and not a solution. So, why we still use them?
MVP is killing innovation
Many will disagree with me on this one, but I stand strong by this statement. What I noticed in my experience that all this buzz words around us only mislead and capture us in a circle of solving issues that already have a solution, but we are unable to see it without using some fancy word for it.
The toughest thing to do for a developer is to minimize requirements. Well, this is though only for bad developers. Yes, I said it. There are many types of developers out there. And those unable to minimize feature scope are the ones you don’t need on your team. Their only goal is to solve problems that exist only in their heads. And then you have to argue with them, and waste energy on them, instead of developing your awesome product. They are a cancer and I suggest you cut them off.
MVP as an idea is great, but sadly people don’t understand underlying philosophy, and they spent too much time focusing and fixating on something that every sane person with normal IQ will understand without some made up acronym. And the result is a lot of talking and barely no execution.
Well, MVP is not directly killing innovation, but stupid people do when they try to understand it.
You must never allow to be pressured into confirming a deadline if you are not confident. We often feel a need that we are in service of others, which is true to some extent. But it is also true that others are in service to us to some extent. And we forget this all the time. We are all pressured all the time to make decisions just to calm other people down. And when they leave your office you experience WTF moment :) How the hell did they manage to fuck me up again?
People need to realize that the more pressure you put on somebody, the less they will be able to do. So 5-min update email requests will only resolve in mental breakdown and inability to work that day. Constant poking is probably the only thing I lose my mind instantly. For all you that are doing this: “Stop bothering us with your insecurities and let us do our job. We will do it quicker and better without you breathing down our necks.”
If this happens to me, I end up with no energy at the end. Don’t you get it? You will get much more from and out of me if you ask me like a human person and not your personal butler. On a long run, you are destroying your relationships and nobody would want to work with you. Your schizophrenic approach will damage only you in a long run. Nobody is anybody’s property.
I am guilty of many things described in this post. And I find it hard sometimes to acknowledge this. And I lie to myself and try vigorously to find some explanation why I do these things. There is always space for growth. And maybe you will also find some of yourself in this post and realize what needs to change for you to evolve.