Friday, May 27, 2011

What You Want To See Is What You Get (WYWTSIWYG)

Be it from friends, co-workers, Reports, Audits, Outside consultants, Inter-Galactic Gurus, expensive Standish Reports, inexpensive internet discussions....where ever you get your information from, chances are it's going to leave you with the guidance or direction you initially envisioned.  Could it be that you're SO SMART and INTUITIVE that you knew what all the experts would have said?  Most likely not...chances are that the information you're seeking, the advice you seek and the meta-physical data gathering done is very tainted by what you wanted it to other words, YOU MADE THE RESULTS say what you wanted it to be.

In psychology, there's a double blind technique used when gathering data - the basic idea is removing the originator of the data request from the data points (the patients or test victims).  This often results in a much more realistic answer to your base question (make sure you're asking the question correctly...otherwise you'll be doing MANY of these data gathering exercises).  Is this a valid way for a IT manager to gather this kind of information? Why not? Why not send your staff out with a question like 'Is Open Source the way to go to be more productive' (as opposed to: I need to stay employable, I know Open Source is big, get me info to bring it into this job so I can learn for my next).  Are there alternatives to the double blind approach? If you're really interested in real, untainted information (sometimes you may not be for many reasons) - look for information that goes against what you want, question ALL information that confirms what you want...ask someone with an opposing view to provide the information.

The results you find are usually the results you seek, at least on paper.

Friday, May 20, 2011

What we got here is a failure to communicate

Communication comes in many forms....some more direct than others.What people say (meetings, emails, etc.) is often not what they want to communicate, but often just a gentle, comforting bandage for what has happened OR about to happen.  The old 'we reward team work' talk followed by decisions to have the team work physically apart or rewarding individuals is a good example of this.  What is being communicated is that they value specific people within the group, for whatever reason, and want those around 'the chosen' to follow and do as needed to support them (not really team work is it?).

I often hear people complain that MANAGEMENT doesn't listen or understand...well, management is in the same boat as everyone else and the ones that make it to that level understand (either through skill, attrition or luck) what is expected of them and react accordingly.  When management say's 'Quality is essential' and then reduces the QA group...what they are really saying is 'you programmers better start coding better, because our costs are to high and your output to weak'.......not 'we plan on putting more $ into the group to ensure quality'.

Don't get frustrated and discouraged, open your eyes, understand what is really being communicated and either accept it or not.........

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dr. StrangePM or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Outsource

A mad project manager embraces outsourcing and the corporate politicians lose control. Sounds like some bad, made for SyFy Channel movie, but it’s true. The day I started to embrace outsourcing is the day the corporate ‘outsource’ hammer lost it’s affect. No longer can I be threatened with lose of job, status and ego. No longer am I complaining about communication problems, late work or poor quality. No longer am I making the almighty dollar that corrupted my original desire to enter software development.

Consume or be consumed, I decided to consume and become part of the solution. The ever present top management needs to reduce costs and disregard the ‘man in the trench’ screams of oppression is the noise of yesterday. Today, I’m on board with outsourcing. The cost savings aren’t that great, the quality isn’t that bad and overall I think we’re still as productive as we were 20 years ago – for better or worse.

I feel relieved of the pressure to keep my programming skills ‘up to speed’ and have stopped worrying about the latest code standards. The box has become black and I’m stacking them up like Lego blocks. The promise of ‘object oriented’ programming has been transformed to replicable off-shore teams.
Do I miss getting my hands on the code? No, I actually still keep them in, but focus on the data, where the value has always been. Do I miss the nights of wrestling with thousands of lines of undocumented code that’s doing what it was written to do, but not what the client wanted? No……

I don’t think the top management desire to cut costs has been achieved, but I do think outsourcing has helped American developers from the never ending code wrestling matches and instead moved us to the bigger ideas and issues at hand.