Home > management, technical > Snap Judgments And Ineffective Decisions

Snap Judgments And Ineffective Decisions

In the software industry, virtually all people agree that Winston Royce‘s classic paper titled “Managing The Development Of Large Software Systems” was the first widely publicized work to describe the linear, sequential, “waterfall” method of building big systems. He didn’t coin the term “waterfall“, he called it a “grandiose process“.

Here’s one of the pics from Mr. Royce’s paper (note that he shows stage N to stage N-1 feedback loops in the diagram and note the “hopefully” word in the figure’s title):

What seems strange to me is that most professional’s that I’ve conversed with think that Mr. Royce was an advocate of this “grandiose process“. However, if you read his 11 page paper, he wasn’t:

The problem is…. The testing phase which occurs at the end of the (waterfall) development cycle is the first event for which timing, storage, input/output transfers, etc., are experienced as distinguished from analyzed. They are not precisely analyzable. They are not the solutions to the standard partial differential equations of mathematical physics for instance. – W. W. Royce

This lack of due diligence to dig deeper into Mr. Royce’s stance reminds me of bad managers who make snap judgments and ineffective decisions. They do this because, in hierarchical command & control CLORG cultures, they’re “supposed to look like” they know and understand what’s going on at all times. After all, the unquestioned assumption in hierarchies is that the best and brightest bubble up to the top. But, as Rudy sez…..

“You have to know a lot to be of help. It’s slow and tedious. You don’t have to know much to cause harm. It’s fast and instinctive.” – Rudolph Starkermann

Of course, all human beings suffer from the same “snap judgments and ineffective decisions” malady to some extent, but the guild of management-by-hierarchy, fueled by its ADHD obsession to jam fit as much attention/planning/work into as little time as possible, seems to have taken it to an extreme.

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