Never trust a developer who says 'I can fix this in a few minutes'

The Register’s story titled Never trust a developer who says 'I can fix this in a few minutes' is a cautionary tale to managers who might trust overly eager developers, but in my opinion there’s usually a lot more going on when situations like these occur.

Sometimes managers hear what they want to hear, and this can be even more true in times of crisis. Or, perhaps the manager hasn’t normally involved with the day to day development process, and therefore has no knowledge that Developer X has a history of YOLOEstimates. Another possibility is that the manager was the one applying the pressure for the developer to do it in a few minutes (“Surely you could just quickly change…” ), and the developer didn’t feel that she or he had a choice but to agree, albeit under duress.

The point of the story still stands, probably – but there’s a number of possible takeaways for any manager (be they project managers or line managers) who might find themselves in a situation like the one described:

  • Be mindful of being a seagull manager (flying in, shitting on everything, and flying away) – if you’re in a crisis situation with a team that you don’t work with on a day to day basis then be aware that you may not know the quirks and traits of each team member.
  • Take care not to be applying pressure on the team to tell you what you want to hear – listen to what they say, and act accordingly. By all means ask a number of different people’s opinions (as some developers can be overly optimistic, while others can be prone to doom and gloom predictions). Ask questions, but don’t make them rhetorical, i.e. “Surely this can be fixed quickly?” or “Surely we can just do it like XYZ?”

All #imho #my2c #ymmv of course.

Posted on Monday, May 18, 2015 9:18 AM |

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