Things started to get more fraught as the week progressed with John, the owner, pressing Leakey for his input on matters. Perhaps a database design? Maybe some coding standards for the mostly green developers? Things came to a head on the Friday afternoon when Leakey was finally meant to be presenting his suggestions for improvements to John. And the suggestion was to implement an Agile process which he launched into with gusto. Now, some of you are techie types who will know about this sort of thing and some not. If you're not please do bear with me for a moment and I'll try and explain a little. Agile is a process for developing software that covers a multitude of sins albeit with an emphasis on keeping things "lean": fine tuning requirements as you go along, self tasking on a daily and longer basis. It's terribly dynamic and just a tad American (whilst "Extreme Programming" has some things to commend it, the name is not one of them, whatever next, extreme ironing?). Leakey started off with slides covering the Agile Manifesto (yes, it's called the Agile Manifesto...). Anyway, for those of you unaware of this Manifesto ("like your manifesto put it to the test-o"*) it reads:
We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.
Through this work we have come to value:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.
He then expounded on the virtues of not producing any processes and not needing any more documentation. And you know, there is a lot to be said for this approach if you're overburdened with processes and have a highly experienced team ready to tackle a new project with vim and vigour. Rather less to be said for it if you don't have any real processes, tools or comprehensive documentation to start with and a team overwhelming made up of recent graduates. A long full and frank discussion between John and Leakey ensued during which I spent a lot of time looking at my watch to see just how late I was going to be for my supposed early out to miss the traffic and get to a National Park whilst it was still daylight. Oh, and I practised my ESP death ray powers as well but alas, still not got the hang of it. Maybe I should start on goats. At the end of the discussion John took me into his office and vented on me... he was somewhat upset that after spending thousands of Euros all he'd got was "one powerpoint slide and a load of bullshit". Quite.
I eventually hit the road a couple of hours late and had to phone a few work people on the way. More on the big game weekend in a later post. Leakey was given until Tuesday to come up with something practical. Like a DB design. He didn't. He did come back with another twelve powerpoint slides extolling Agile though. I am now the only consultant on site.
* Answers as to where this comes from on a comment please, no cheating and Googling!