Home > management, technical > Read, Read, Read

Read, Read, Read

To put it mildly, I’m not too fond of software project and “functional” software managers that don’t read code. Even worse, wanna-be-manager tweeners and lofty software “architects” who don’t read code are the pits. Note that I’m not demanding that these exalted ones write code, just actually RTFC (Read The F#@^&*! Code). Why? I thought you’d never ask…..

You see, I’m a believer in the “trust but verify” motto popularized by Ronald Reagan during the cold war. The only pseudo-objective way to truly assess progress, consistency, and quality on a software project is to sample the product – you know, the code. If you know of a better way, then I’m all ears.

It’s not that I don’t trust people to try their best, it’s just that most hierarchical cultures are toxic by unintentional design and that forces people to innocently cover up or camouflage a lack of progress when they fill out their “weekly status sheets” or verbally report progress at useless CYA (Cover Your Arse) meetings. Sadly, once DICs get appointed into elite manager and architect titles, they tend to leave their code reading and (especially) writing days behind. Of course, they’ve arrived (Halleluja!) and they no longer have to do any “janitorial” work that can be done by fungible DORKs.

How about you? Do you think people in the roles of software project manager, software functional manager, and software architect should actively read code as part of their jobs?

In many companies, enterprise architects sit in an ivory tower without doing anything useful. – Ivar Jacobson

  1. PhilN
    November 10, 2010 at 8:38 am

    Wow a Reagan reference? I guess I’m going to beg to differ here a bit. In my Quarter Century+ years as an Engineer, I’ve seen much more harm caused by uninformed outdated fossils that *still* think they are technical. Most managers are not like Bill Gates, i.e. a geek that made it. Most are, well, pencil pushing, schedule driving, meeting goers. They no longer can keep up with today’s fast paced changes in the technology de’ jour. For most of them, its best for them to get out of the way when it comes to technical issues (unless of course you are working on products that are older than most dog’s life spans).

    PhilN
    Enterprise Architect

    • November 10, 2010 at 11:58 am

      Enterprise Architect, aye Phil? Didn’t you forget to prefix it with “Senior”? 🙂

      I actually agree with you somewhat. If the managers are more than one level removed or greater, then yes you’re right. However, I think that architects, software project managers, software leads, software engineering managers should be able to, and should actually, read code. It’s all about the product cuz: “you can have a product without a business, but you can’t have a business without a product”. What else could these front line “leader” dudes be doing with their 40 hours per week? Going to meetings? Giving uninformed, subjective performance reviews? Dictating ineffective and progress thwarting procedures for others to follow?

  1. November 10, 2010 at 9:30 am

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