Stuck And Bother
I’m currently working on a project with a real, hard deadline. My team has to demonstrate a working, multi-million dollar radar in the near future to a potential deep-pocketed customer. As you can see below, the tower is up and the antenna is majestically perched on its pedestal. However, it ain’t spinning yet. Nor is it radiating energy, detecting signal returns, or extracting/estimating target information (range, speed, angle, size) buried in a mess of clutter and noise. But of course, we’re integrating the hardware and software and progressing toward the goal.
Lest you think otherwise, I’m no Ed Snowden and those pics aren’t classified. If you’re a radar nerd, you can even get this particular radar emblazoned on a god-awful t-shirt (like I did) from zazzle.com:
OK, enough of this bulldozarian levity. Let’s get serious again – oooh!
As a hard deadline approaches on a project, a perplexing question always comes to my mind:
How much time should I spend helping others who get “stuck“, versus getting the code I am responsible for writing done in time for the demo? And conversely, when I get stuck, how often should I “bother” someone who’s trying to get her own work done on time?
Of course, if you’re doing “agile“, situations like this never happen. In fact, I haven’t ever seen or heard a single agile big-wig address this thorny social issue. But reality being what it is, situations like this do indeed happen. I speculate that they happen more often than not – regardless of which methodology, practices, or tools you’re using. In fact, “agile” has the potential to amplify the dilemma by triggering the issue to surface on a per sprint basis.
Save for the psychopaths among us, we all want to be altruistic simply because it’s the culturally right thing to do. But each one of us, although we’re sometimes loathe to admit it, has been endowed by mother nature with “the selfish gene“. We want to serve ourselves and our families first. In addition, the situation is exacerbated by the fact that the vast majority of organizations unthinkingly have dumb-ass recognition and reward systems in place that celebrate individual performance over team performance – all the while assuming that the latter is a natural consequence of the former. Life can be a be-otch, no?