Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Walt Jeffries and IT Development

Sugar Mountain Farm is a blog I follow.  Not sure why, maybe the combo of intimidating expertise, different lifestyle, humor, ....  and just enough commonality (that's not the right word, but it's close enough) with my rearing to be able to enjoy it vicariously.  (Come to think of it, I wonder if Walt ever read "Swiss Family Robinson", one of my favorite books when growing up.)

Anyhow, that's not the point.  Let me quote from most of a recent post:
Will [a son] is working on learning to weld stainless steel in preparation for making some of the parts we need for the butcher shop. Tractor ears was his first sheet metal project in stainless steel. By doing small useful tests we explore techniques and develop the necessary skills for design and production. This is a way. Chez Tao.

To build the butcher shop we developed techniques by building our cottage, a much smaller version using many of the same methods. Prior to the cottage we built the dog house. Before that a ferro cement and brick pig hut. Even earlier, table top models. With each progressively larger version we developed technique and honed skills.
To me that sounds much like the "code a little, test a little" process of software development and very different from the  big project "waterfall" model which used to reign supreme in the 1980's, and which seems to retain a hold even today.  It's a model which often leads to disaster, and waste of money--witness the failed project to create a common health record between DOD and VA.

There's not much point to this observation, except as it confirms the saying: "too soon old, too late smart".   There's much in my career I'd redo if I could.  And much of what I regret in my work life traces back to hubris. 

The Greeks were right.

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