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Staying Sane

November 16, 2013 Leave a comment

Standardization is long periods of mind-numbing boredom interrupted by moments of sheer terror – Bjarne Stroustrup

In his ACCU2013 talk, “C++14 Early Thoughts“, Bjarne Stroustrup presented this slide:

Staying Sane

By using “we” in each bullet point, Bjarne was referring to the ISO WG-1 C++ committee and the daunting challenges it faces to successfully move the language forward.

Not only do the committee leaders have to manage the external onslaught of demands from a huge, dedicated user base, they have to homogenize the internal communications amongst many smart and assertive members. To illustrate the internal management problem, Bjarne said something akin to: “There is no topic the committee isn’t willing to discuss at length for two years“.

committee Pic

In order to prevent being overwhelmed with work, the committee uses this set of grass roots principles to filter out the incoming chaff from the wheat:

Cpp Guiding Principles

I have no idea how internal conflicts are handled, nor how infinite loops of technical debate are exited, but since the all-volunteer committee is still functioning and doing a great job (IMO) of modernizing the language, there’s got to be some magic at work here:

Static If Concepts Lite

Alarmin’ Larman

Recently, I listened to an interview with Craig Larman on the topic of “Scaling Scrum To Large Organizations“.

Here is what I liked about Mr. Larman’s talk:

  • He didn’t use the term “management“. He repeatedly used the term “overhead management” to emphasize the wastefulness of maintaining these self-important middle org layers.
  • He predicted that the dream of retaining high paying, “spreadsheet and Microsoft Project overhead management jobs”  in developed countries designed to watch over subservient code monkeys in low labor rate, third world countries would not come to fruition.
  • He predicted that the whole scale adoption of agile processes like “Scrum” and “Lean” would lead to the demise of the roles of “project manager” and “program manager” in software projects.
  • He recommended ignoring ISO and CMMI certifications and assessments. Roll up your sleeves and directly read/inspect the source code of any software company you’re considering partnering with or buying from.

There is one thing that bothered me about his talk. I’m not a Scrum process expert, but I don’t understand the difference between the cute sounding “Scrum Coach/Scrum Master” roles and the more formal sounding “Project Manager/Program Manager” roles. Assuming that there’s a huge difference, I can foresee clever overhead managers donning the mask of “Scrum Master” and still behaving as self-important, know-it-all, command and control freaks. Of course, they can only get away with preserving the unproductive status quo (while espousing otherwise) if the executives they work for are clueless dolts.

If you’re so inclined, give the talk a listen and report your thoughts back here.

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