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To distract you from what?

Because my last post was related to a quote from a movie (Remember Me), I thought it would be fun to use quotes from movies for my blog posts and correlate them to Software Development.

Recently I only saw The Tourist, which unfortunately doesn’t have really interesting quotes, but I said, “what the hell, just pick one quote from the Memorable quotes for The Tourist”. Actually all quotes are memorable, because they are (very) short and use simple words, which even my little daughter would understand. (But of course, even if they are memorable, I don’t recommend anyone to memorize them).

So let’s take this quote:

This is exactly why (s)he chose him. To distract us.

What if we would replace him with it and think that us stands for us, our software development team and (s)he stand for the project manager or a colleague. I think it’s pretty interesting to see what connotations derive from the transformed quote “This is exactly why he chose it. To distract us.” when we give “it” several meanings.

There is us on one side and (s)he on the other side. How often did you, as a member of a software development team, thought like this? The project manager (or the product manager or the client) is on one side and you, the poor fellow who has to implement something on the other side. All decisions made by others for you will make you think about why they made that decision. And mostly, you won’t get a satisfying answer to this question. But since this is a question, and you as a software developer always have to get an answer to your questions, you often invent an answer. Not every time the answer is the best one, but you are pragmatic and don’t need the perfect answer, you need an answer that will get you going. One of these answers is seldom (I hope) this one: “To distract us”. This would mean that the decision-making party would have intentionally made a decision to distract you, which I honestly don’t think anyone does. Only perhaps to hide some lacking knowledge of him or to let you think he knows  something better, when he in fact doesn’t.

But nonetheless, this would mean that you are living in a black box, where decisions are being made without your implication and everything seems to be done just to distract you.

To distract you from what?

I think that software developers are always distracted from being inventive, from being creative or being motivated when you make a decision without involving them properly. If they do not have a word to say related to a decision, if they don’t have the time to think about possible solutions to a problem or if they aren’t allowed to test and prove their own ideas, they will feel distracted and unmotivated. Let them be analytic and pragmatic. If you, as a project manager, team leader, leading developer or every other title you may have, take each developers decisional role away, they will feel unnecessary and after a time they will only do what they are told to. They won’t be creative any more and they will not search for solutions on their own. This is definitely not something you would like in your team! If you always choose the frameworks to be used, if you always choose your preferred coding style, if you always choose the design patterns to be used or if you always have to impose your class diagrams, your team will slowly, but surely, become unproductive.

My goal is to let each developer come with ideas. Let every developer search for solutions and let them present their findings. If we would always use what is being imposed to us (like for instance standard patterns and frameworks) there would be no more really ingenious ideas coming out. We would start getting to think only inside the box, rather than outside the box. If every programmer has the chance to come up with solutions and to present them, the team will make the final decision. Thus there won’t be a person to blame for an unfortunate solution, instead the whole team would stand responsible for every decision.

Let each programmer think and let the team be his jury. Don’t choose something that your team can choose. Don’t distract them from thinking. Don’t distract them from being open-minded! Let them Find the Box.