Sunday, August 31, 2008

Why I hate Idea Men

Ever shoot a rifle and miss the target? Well, if you haven't here's how you miss: you're aim is off by just a little bit.

The same thing happens when you're building software - or anything, for that matter.

I've spent about 40 years building systems of various kinds - mostly software implementations to 'solve' some problem. The process is pretty straightforward and goes like this:

1. Try to figure out what you're going to do.
2. Pick the most important parts and the most important actions and interactions between the parts.
3. Pretend that is all there is in the world and build some software which mimics everything you've thought of. By the way, these parts, actions and interactions are the 'model'.
4. Test it until it works well enough to do the job.
5. Knowing what you now know, go back to step 1 and do it all over again.
6. Repeat step 5.
7. Repeat step 6.

You get the idea.

Nobody is ever right the first, second, third, or even the 'last' time.

Models aren't reality - we just work on them until they are 'close enough'.

What's this got to do with Idea Men?

Idea Men do parts 1 and 2, then they get somebody else to do step 3.

Then they blame the guys who built the thing in step 3 because they don't want to do step 4.

Finally, they won't do step 5 because they're 'right' and the guys who built it are all incompetent and that's the reason it doesn't work like they said it would.

Then the Idea Men get promotions and raises.