Re: Is this just the way things are?

Subject: Re: Is this just the way things are?
From: Sandy Harris <sharris -at- dkl -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 26 Nov 1999 15:55:02 -0500

Elna Tymes wrote:

> Catherine Scribner wrote:
> <examples snipped>
> > Is this just the way things are in software companies? ...
> >
> > Is bad management just the price one pays for working in this industry?
> Catherine -
> It's endemic. It gives you "character lines" and war stories. And you do
> the best you can to improve the process, ...

So far I agree entirely, but Catherine also says:

> > A colleague tells me that the industry is too young to have been able
> > to attract managers that know anything about management.

I don't think that's the problem at all. I think there are a lot of other
factors in play:

Management of software projects is extremely hard, far more so than most
other types of management. See Fred Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month" for
a detailed discussion of the reasons. I consider it required reading for
anyone in this industry.

The skills of a good hacker and a good manager do not overlap all that
much. See for a
good description of the hacker personality.

Between those two factors, there are very few really competent managers
available for software projects. Neither the MBA who doesn't understand
code nor the coder who doesn't understand management have a hope of getting
it right.

It's a bit like finding good tech writers; illiterate engineers and
English majors who don't know a resistor from a register are both likely
to make a mess of that, though the English majors may be trainable.

So, with few competent managers and a rapidly moving field, ...

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