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Re: Coding to a deadline - why it is just like hunting bears.

by dws (Chancellor)
on Jun 04, 2003 at 17:26 UTC ( #263071=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Coding to a deadline - why it is just like hunting bears.

If you are not careful by the time that you have slapped all the mosquitoes the bear is almost on top of you and any shot you can get off is rushed and not the clean kill that you had wanted.

This anology scales to cover project leadership. Here, you're passing out tranquilizer darts to the team, and making sure they know what they're shooting at. Your team gets several shots at the bear. Each shot slows it down a bit (keeping it from charging). The goal is to guide the tranquilized bear into a big box. If your team screws up early shots, you have less time for later shots. If you (the project leader) get too distracted swatting mosquitoes, you'll be slow to hand out darts. If the team doesn't get darts quickly enough, or if they get distracted, they won't hit the bear and it won't slow down, putting more pressure on the team to make later shots count.

Adding shooters when the bear charges doesn't work, because you have to stop and teach them how to use your particular bear gun. Meanwhile, the people on the team who can shoot and are forced to dig through your pack to get darts, which is slow and error prone.

In situations like this, one tactic that works is to split the leadership. On leader takes off his clothes and stands up, gathering most of the mosquitoes to him. The other leader has fewer mosquitoes to swat, and can focus on coaching shooters and handing out tranquilizer darts. While effective, this approach tends to be send the "sacrificial" leader to the hospital for a lengthy recovery.

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