Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Programmers Are Like Boy Scouts On A Hike

I was reading "The Goal", by Eliyahu Goldratt, when I came across an analogy that was familiar. I'm a scout leader, and so get plenty of opportunities to watch boy scouts hike on trails. I've noticed that when each one walks at their own pace, some boys will get to the end of the trail far faster than the slowest boy. If it's a two hour hike, one boy will finish in 90 minutes, while the slowest boy will finish in 2 1/2 hours.

If this were a software development department, that would mean that some developers would finish far ahead of others. The entire project would be delivered according the pace of the slowest developer.

When Boy Scouts march as a troop, the most amazing thing happens. They work together as a team. Two hour hikes are often completed between 1 3/4 hours and 2 hours. That means that the team environment compensates for the slowest guy far more than it slows down the fastest guy.

For a software development department, this increase of productivity is immediate. As the team gets used to working together, they get faster and faster, often sprinting and running towards finish lines. Each software project is delivered on or before the deadline, as long as we are implementing the principles of team development.

Now if I could just get the developers to "Be Prepared", we'd be all set.