Chapter Three. Cargo Cult Software Engineering

In the South Seas there is a cargo cult of people. During the war they saw airplanes with lots of good materials, and they want the same thing to happen now. So they've arranged to make things like runways, to put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head for headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas he's the controller and they wait for the airplanes to land. They're doing everything right. The form is perfect. It looks exactly the way it looked before. But it doesn't work. No airplanes land. So I call these things cargo cult science, because they follow all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but they're missing something essential, because the planes don't land.


I find it useful to draw a contrast between two different organizational development styles: "process-oriented" and "commitment-oriented" development. Process-oriented development achieves its effectiveness through skillful planning, use of carefully defined processes, efficient use of available time, and skillful application of software engineering best practices. This style of development succeeds because the organization that uses it is constantly improving. Even if its early attempts are ineffective, steady attention to process means each successive attempt will work better than the previous attempt.

Commitment-oriented development goes by several names including "hero-oriented development" and "individual empowerment." Commitment-oriented organizations are characterized by hiring the best possible people, asking them for total commitment to their projects, empowering them with nearly complete autonomy, motivating them to an extreme degree, and then seeing that they work 60, 80, or 100 hours a week until the project is finished. Commitment-oriented development derives its potency from its tremendous motivational ability study after study has found that individual motivation is by far the largest single contributor to productivity.[2] Developers make voluntary, personal commitments to the projects they work on, and they often go to extraordinary lengths to make their projects succeed.

Professional Software Development(c) Shorter Schedules, Higher Quality Products, More Successful Projects, [... ]reers
Professional Software Development(c) Shorter Schedules, Higher Quality Products, More Successful Projects, [... ]reers
Year: 2005
Pages: 164 © 2008-2017.
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