Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Death March Values...revisited

Some time ago, I was reading a great page on the C2 Project Wiki about Death March Values. This is in no way implying that we have this problem here...but these are habits we should not fall into.

The basic concept is that some organizations have a subculture that continues to employ self-destructive values over and over again. Here are a few indicators that you may be in one of these organizations:
  •  Business Value Desicion Makers (BVDMs) want the "magic" of software without considering the work involved, "ProductWithoutProcess".
  •  BVDMs reward the guy who stayed up all night fixing a bug while the guy/gal who's code always works the first time gets little recognition. The Hero Programmer
  • Young Hotshot Programmers fall in love with a product "Project Love Affair", take little time to consider the broader picture and fail to employ the Practices.
    In most organizations you can insulate against the Death March Values by not accepting the status quo. In some organizations it's so embedded in the culture that you may never be able to fight the tide.

    Here are several things your development team can do to mitigate the Death March Values:
    • Commit to only as much work as you can do
      This is tough because most teams don't know how much work they can get done. Always track the amount of work you have done in the past so you can properly estimate in the future.
    • Set a schedule and stick to it
      Sticking to a schedule is tough, but if you only commit to as much work as you can perform then you won't have a problem. The two things that will affect your schedule the most are distracting task and scope creep.
    • Value working software over scope creep
      Inevitably, near the end of a release everyone wants to pile on "just one more feature." In these moments you must remind everyone that it's more important to get the bulk of the new features out to production rather than "creep" in new ones.
    • Accept success and failure as a team
      Simple...enough said ;-)
     See also: Death March Project