Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Mythical 5%

Bruce Eckel's commencement address at Neumont University in Salt Lake City.  The school is geared toward teaching Comp. Sci.  Some excerpts:

We are in a young business. Primitive, really -- we don't know much about what works, and we keep thinking we've found the silver bullet that solves all problems. As a result, we go through these multi-year boom and bust cycles as new ideas come in, take off, exceed their grasp, then run out of steam. But some ideas seem to have staying power. For example, a lot of the ideas in agile methodologies seem to be making some real impacts in productivity and quality. This is because they focus more on the issues of people working together and less on technologies.

People issues.  In software as well as life, People Issues rule.  To condense further...

A man I've learned much from, Gerald Weinberg, wrote his first couple of books on the technology of programming. Then he switched, and wrote or coauthored 50 more on the process of programming, and he is most famous for saying "no matter what they tell you, it's always a people problem."

A third way to look at this:

...there's one more very important maxim from Gerald Weinberg which doesn't really answer anything as much as gives you a way to understand what happens. He says: "Things are the way they are because they got that way ... one logical step at a time." It's the legendary frog in the saucepan. So from your fresh new perspective things might look ridiculous, but remember that each decision on the way was made by someone weighing the issues and making what seemed like the best choice at the time. This viewpoint doesn't solve the problem but it can make you more compassionate about the people who are stuck there.


This is worth taking the time to read.