Thursday, 23 August 2007

The Programming Djinni Grants Wishes

As a commercial product develops the wish-list grows longer and longer. User suggestions and feedback are collated and prioritized. Pretty soon you have a very large list.

The tragedy of the C cases
Here's the problem: Lots of worthy but little items are continually pushed to the bottom of the pile, by the latest big feature.

I call this "the tragedy of the C cases". These items of functionality may languish, if proper discipline is respected, never bubbling to the top.

There are disciplined ways around this use Scrum and XP style planning, but these require buy-in from the non-programmers and may not be achievable within your organization.

The magic approach
Here's a simple and fun alternative for a small company or department: One day per month -- customarily on the 23rd (or the nearest weekday) -- one or more programmers turn into djinnis who attempt to grant reasonable and achievable wishes to one lucky person in the company.

This breaks up the usual routine (a good thing as per the Hawthorne effect), is engaging for the lucky person -- who sees some immediate results -- and it is also good for the programmers, who get the satisfaction of working directly with a tangible person for a change rather than through a mediated priority list. And the software gets nicely polished.

Try it: See how you go; let me know.

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