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Partial Reflection 2

For this second partial, we finally get into the main thing I had been waiting for, the actual experiment starts. There were some unexpected conditions by Belok, but thankfully everything worked out  at the end. The first problem Tompkins and his group faces is that Belok wants everyone to be on the same team. Overstaffed teams are a bad idea when it comes to software development, 2 people won’t write twice the lines of code than just one. As you start adding more people to the project you start seeing diminishing returns until you actually start losing productivity and money by adding more people. With more people conflicts will form more easily and in some cases there might not be enough work for everyone so you are paying people to do nothing and just wait until there is work for them.

The book also talks about function points, which are a way of measuring projects. However, Tompkins and his team realized that they didn’t really need function points, they could just have come up with an arbitrary unit of measurement that worked for their projects specifically. After that, we revisit the problem that you can’t increase productivity in the short term. Tompkins is demanded to follow the Capability Maturity Model which will only increase productivity in the long term and will actually increase the time it will take for the 6 projects to finish. We also learn about other ways that programs like CMM can be detrimental. For example, CMM sets such a strict set of rules that you are not allowed to stray from the path, even if you find a faster solution. In this case, since the 6 projects are copies of other projects, the managers wanted to use the documentation that was already done before and have a huge head start that way. The B and C teams had already started doing just that and had a huge lead in that regard. Sometimes, having strict rules can lead to not doing thighs that are against them, but offer benefits.

Tompkins meets with Morovia’s first programmer and he tells Tompkins that the only feasible way they are finishing the projects is by reducing debugging time. Developers spend most of their time debugging, so by increasing design time drastically bugs will be almost non-existent.

Following that, Belok delivers more bad news. Everytime this character makes an appearance he just screws everything even more. So it turns out that Tompkins now has to get the airport ready for the 2000 Olympics. Work just keeps piling up. Belok also insisted that Tompkins had to be a lot stricter with the workers. Putting a lot of pressure on people will actually reduce performance. Moreover, increasing work hours doesn’t actually increase work done. All the orders Belok was giving Tompkins were going to decrease the performance. Thankfully, with the help of the higher ups, he can lie to Belok so he thinks that he is following his orders while he is actually doing quite the opposite.

The next topic the book covers has to do with project specifications. Many parties are involved in a project, which will inevitably lead to conflict. Due to this, specs are often ambiguous in order to not go against the parties involved. The fact that the existing radio system specs weren’t clear lead to another thing that I found to be very much true. People tend to think they are less intelligent than others, so when reading a complicated spec, you pretend you understand it because you assume everyone else understood it.

For the last part of this partial, the book talked about conflict resolution. In this case, 2 people helped Tompkins with this, One was Dr. Larry and the other was the kindergarten teacher, Kayo. Larry thought Tompkins that conflict isn’t unprofessional, as long as 2 parties with different interests are present conflict will arise. In this case, a mediator needs to show them that their interests align, although not completely. Kayo tells a lot of stories that some way or another relate to the project and end up increasing morale and people don’t want to leave anymore. In the last part, the interlude, I learnt that sometimes focusing too much on something will blind you from what you are looking for if the description is slightly off.

I’m almost done with the book. What I’m expecting to happen next is the obvious conclusion to the experiment. I personally think that the projects will not be finished in time, but they aren’t going to be in trouble. I feel like there needs to be some sort of plot twist or twist with Belok where it turns out that he was just being super strict to test him or something like that. I just can’t believe that he doesn’t realize that his ideas are not doing any good. I guess I will find that out later.


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