The first management consultant – More Ancient Wisdom

Jethro the First Management Consultant – More Ancient Wisdom For Software Developers

Exodus the first book in the Old Testament was written around 1,450 BC or nearly 3,500 years ago. This is the first known reference to management and specifically to management consulting. This ancient wisdom is useful for managing software development.

According to Exodus, Moses was handling all the complaints and concerns of the Jewish people. As it is described in Exodus Moses spent all day sitting and listening to all the issues and concerns of the Jewish people. The Jewish people had to wait in line for hours to speak to Moses. Moses tried to resolve all the complaints and issues between the Jewish people himself. He was micromanaging.

Moses’ Father In Law Jethro saw this and offered Moses some advice. Jethro basically told Moses you are doing this all wrong. Jethro explained to Moses, “you will surely wear yourself out and not just yourself but the people. The task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it along.”

There are many reasons why we do not like to delegate. Ken Siegel, PhD, a psychologist who consults to managers says, “It’s probably one of the most significant management hurdles. To delegate you have to admit that someone is going to accomplish this at least as well as you, if not better, and most of us don’t like to acknowledge that.”

Delegating frees you up to do more important things like planning for the future.

Jethro was telling Moses to delegate some of his responsibility to others. Delegation would help Moses and the people. Jethro told Moses, “look among all the people for able and God-fearing men, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain and set them as officers over groups of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.” The span of management control is only about 10 people and that has not changed much in the past three thousands of years.

Project management is not a new idea it seems to be a new idea for software development

Read more at the free online book Reboot!  Rethinking and Restarting Software Development.  (www.RebootRethink.Com)


Ancient Wisdom for Software Estimating

There is a lot of ancient wisdom that is useful for software development. Some of the wisdom comes from the West and some from the East. One of the most interesting parables can be found in the Christian New Testament. Jesus was addressing a crowd of onlookers and told this story. The story can be found in Luke and it reads, “Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion? Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish’. Luke 14:25-33

Too many software projects start without a clear understanding of the functionality of the project  or total project costs. The project sponsor marches his or her team straight down the path of project disaster. They ignore all the warning signs. The problem is that they did not know the amount of resources needed to finish the project in the first place. They did not fully understand the total cost or total effort.

Too many software developers do not know how tall the tower is going to be  or how much functionality is required.  In the end failing to understand total project cost and effort is not a new idea. It is just an accepted practice in the field of software development and especially in software estimating.