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Managed Chaos
Naresh Jain's Random Thoughts on Software Development and Adventure Sports
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Software myth #1: The more the merrier

Time and again, events in daily life remind me of M3.

In 1975 Frederick Brooks published a book called “The Mythical Man-Month“. Most of us refer to it as M3. The essence of the book is “Too many cooks will surely spoil the broth”. Outrageously oversimplified Brooks‘ Law can be stated as ‘adding more people to a late software project makes it later‘.

I have seen people trying to break this law at different levels and fail miserably. Despite time and tide, brooks‘ law applies not only at project level, but also at organizational levels.

A lot of organizations trying to overcome financial or other crisis by growing. Even though some [very few] organizations have really solved the crisis by growing, they have surely been a failure. The reason for failure being, loss of vision and identity. Most of the old timers leave and the organization is a whole new organization, with different people and different aspirations.

Currently I‘m working on a project where the client wants us to deliver the system on a fixed date with fixed functionality. So far we have worked on this project for 3 months. Based on the amount of functionality we have delivered so far, the client has tried to extrapolate and feels that we would not be able to deliver the whole functionality on the final day. Based on these crazy calculations, what options to do we have to deliver the system on time?

Unfortunately, the obvious stupid answer to solve the problem is, add more developers and analysts. Break down the teams into smaller manageable work streams based on functionality. Add more architects, managers and more towers of hierarchy.

To step back and think, scares the shit out of me. We are already seeing some symptoms of failure. But we think we can break all records and rules. Afraid not. But we can surely do the same old stupid mistakes again.

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