Changes in Lattitudes, Changes in Attitudes

As Jimmy Buffet sings, “Reading departure signs in airports reminds me off all the places I have been.”  I am on my way to California today and whenever I travel it reminds me of all the places and people I have met before.  After 3 million frequent flyer miles, working in every possible industry, and on every contentent there are somethings that are very predicatble.  I can count on software developers saying or maintaining the following positions.

1. Measurement is not possible in the software industry because it is too complex and unpredictable.

Many in the statistics profession, including myself, do not believe in random events.  Some statisticians and mathematicians go mad trying to find patterns.   There is no need to go mad in the domain of software development because many of the patterns are blatantly obvious.   The process only appears to be random because it has not been studied.  It is common for a clinical psychologist to see patterns in an individual’s behavior while the individual is totally blind to his or her own patterns of behavior.   One of the functions of a clinical psychologist is to get people to recognize these patterns and behaviors.   The most common way for psychologists to get people to recognize their patterns is through measurement and keeping a journal.

Many software organizations write journals which are more commonly known as lessons learned documents.  I often review lessons learned documents, and it is painfully obvious the same patterns repeat over and over again. If all the past lessons learned documents are pointing to the same problems, then it is safe to conclude the next lessons learned document is going to point out the same problems. There are only three possible reasons for software organizations to keep repeating the same behaviors: the first is denial and ignoring the glaring fact that the same bad stuff happens in every project, the second is “not my fault syndrome” or nothing can be done about it, the third and final reason it is just too hard to change.

2.  My intuition works better than systematics study.  A wet finger in the air seems to work best for us.

The software developer prefers to use intuition instead of systematic study.  In a method of intuition, what makes logical sense must be true.   I have heard many software developers say, “I know what I know.”   It reminds me of the lyrics from the song “What I am” by The New Bohemians: “I’m not aware of too many things, but I know what I know if you know what I mean.”   If knowledge cannot be communicated via some type of, measurement it is difficult to understand what is meant.  If any process is “too complex” or “random” to be studied using the scientific method by applying measurements, then it is a safe bet that it cannot be studied using intuition either.

Read more at Reboot! Rethinking and Restarting Software Development


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  1. […] more here: Changes in Lattitudes, Changes in Attitudes « Quips On Software … var addthis_pub = ''; var addthis_language = 'en';var addthis_options = 'email, favorites, digg, […]

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