A wise man once observed, "There are two types of people in this world: those who divide people into two types and those who do not." Perhaps it was Steve Martin; I don't remember.
In that same vein of reasoning, I have found that there are two types of engineers:
- The engineer who believes that his job is to make things simple, and
- The engineer who believes that his job is to make things complicated.
I call the first type Simplifying Engineers and the second type Complicating Engineers. I despise the second type of engineer. He is obnoxious to industry.
Leo Tolstoy begins his novel Anna Karenina with the profound observation that:
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
Not to be maudlin, but an engineering development team is a lot like a family, especially where Tolstoy's observation is concerned. I would state the Karenina Principle as:
“Successful development teams are all alike; every unsuccessful development team is unsuccessful in its own way.”
David Letterman named his production company Worldwide Pants, Inc. The motto is, “The leader in pants and entertainment... and pants.” I believe Letterman was poking fun of NBC’s parent company, General Electric. He makes a good point.
The essence of business strategy is deciding what you are not going to do.
Tar-baby is a metaphor I find myself using and having to explain quite often. Metaphors are the essence of communication. They enable us to compare and contrast a situation in great detail with very few words. For instance, I can say “sour grapes” and evoke the entire Aesop story of "The Fox and the Grapes" to compare and contrast a particular situation. I assume that all literate individuals are familiar with Aesop’s fables and make the allusion with confidence. I cannot make the same assumption about Uncle Remus.
At XMLSolutions, Paul Lyman would ask the developers, "What is your hit-by-a-bus plan?" The question is quite simple in its intent. If one of your team members is hit by a bus on the way to work one morning, does the rest of the team have enough information at their hands to soldier on without him?