Heisenberg Developers

Mike Hadlow’s blog post about a project that moved to an agile process with PM’s mirrored exactly a project I worked on a while ago. If I didn’t know everyone on the team, I would have assumed it was someone taking notes about the project I was working on.

Every two weeks we would have a day long planning meeting where these tasks were defined. We then spent the next 8 days working on the tasks and updating Jira with how long each one took. Our project manager would be displeased when tasks took longer than the estimate and would immediately assign one of the other team members to work with the original developer to hurry it along. We soon learned to add plenty of contingency to our estimates. We were delivery focused. Any request to refactor the software was met with disapproval, and our time was too finely managed to allow us refactor ‘under the radar’.

We became somewhat de-motivated. After loosing an argument about how things should be done more than a few times, you start to have a pretty clear choice: knuckle down, don’t argue and get paid, or leave.

The project was not a happy one. Features took longer and longer to be delivered. There always seemed to be a mounting number of bugs, few of which seemed to get fixed, even as the team grew. The business spent more and more money for fewer and fewer benefits.