Bob Cramblitt reports on Tim Lister’s talk from Business of Software 2007. To sign up for the BoS 2008, visit www.businessofsoftware.org
“Tim Lister is an anthropologist,” says Simon Galbraith, co-CEO of Red Gate Software. It’s an apt description. Lister uncovers the often-hidden patterns that constitute software culture, everything from the developers’ war against perceived inferiors (i.e. marketing wonks) within the company, to the smell of dead fish that permeates a project that’s doomed from the beginning.
More than 70 patterns are outlined in the upcoming book, Project Patterns: From Adrenaline Junkies to Template Zombies, co-authored by Lister. Here are some of the ones he discussed in his Business of Software 2007 presentation:
- Mañana – the loss of a natural sense of urgency. Agile development fights mañana.
- The dead fish of failure – projects that are dead from the start. Everyone smells it right away, but they hunker down and work.
- Lessons unlearned – Retrospectives rarely trigger change.
- What smell? – People in the organization cannot detect its underlying vitality or decay.
- Marilyn Munster – Like the normal girl among the monsters in the old TV family, the esteem often given technical workers versus managerial staff varies. In some organizations, developers are king; in others they are pawns.
- Surprise! – The manager offering rewards and incentives gets responses in addition to those he planned.
- Everyone wears clothes for a reason – Complete openness grinds progress to a halt.
- Music – people with real musical skills are disproportionably represented, sometimes extremely so, in technology organizations.
Lister’s essential message: Look for patterns, name them, then propagate or defeat them.
For more, check out the Tim Lister interview on this blog: