Of VC’s and Management

Two great articles covering the business world. The first article is titled “The Venture Capitalist Wishlist.” Provides a nice overview of the major desires that VC’s have in providing capital to new businesses.

The second article talks about the famous superplant GE Durham, NC. The plant is famous because it employees 170 jet engine workers, with only one manager. The 9 teams that make up the plant personal are entirely self sufficent and make all decisions for their teams from unpacking parts, to assembly, to working hours.

Software Development
and Project Success

When I was growing up our family’s resources were less extensive than they are now, and as such, we sometimes had to do without some perks. One of these perks was a complete set of tools for home/car repair. Simple fixes like changing a battery would result in hours of work because of the inherit limitations of our tools; which ostensibly consisted of a hammer and a butter knife. Whenever I was brushing off the latest “injury” incurred while fixing something, my father would say to me, “Everything is simple if you have the right tool.” The better the tool is at doing a specific task, the easier it will be to complete that task. Ever watched “This Old House?” They had a tool to do everything! I didn’t even know they made adjustable-corner-rounded-cut-circular-door-saws with the optional digital level… cordless, if you are lucky. Heck, if I had a shop with 30 million dollars worth of specialized equipment, I bet even I could make something as fundamentally complex as a bar stool.

“Everything is simple if you have the right tool.”

This maxim (while not always true) is amazingly accurate in describing the modern development process. In fact, this is the reason I work on KDE (as opposed to the “other” Linux desktop environment.) Things are simply easier to do, are more productive, and more functional because the tool is designed better and focused specifically on desktop software development.

Today I ran into a series of articles by some application developers who I have come to respect. Their insight into the software development process will hopefully help give me some direction on future project management. Here they are will some selected quotes that stand out:

The strongest indication of a weak team is the realization that if you were to quit and start your own business, you wouldn’t try to poach any of your colleagues.

“Strong teams have almost impossibly high hiring standards. Strong teams will always leave a desk empty rather than settling for less than the best.”

“Examples of development hygiene include source code versioning, maintenance of an accurate bug or issue database, significant use of automated testing, continuous integration, and specifications that are kept current (whether incredibly detailed or high-level overviews).”

“A chicken is an individual who has significant authority over your project, but does not make a personal commitment to the success of the project.”

“And every time I’ve delivered software on schedule milestone after milestone, my influence and standing with stakeholders has grown. And every time I’ve missed a date, I’ve suffered, regardless of whether the late software was demonstrably better than what was originally planned for the missed date.”

“Documents such as specifications yield the same benefits of source control.”

“Discard all processes that are mechanically completed with little actual benefit. Tweak those that require more effort than necessary, maximizing the results while minimizing the effort.”