If It Was Good Enough for Shakespeare: A Fresh Look at the Need for Talent in Software Engineering

Rob Styles

Martin Fowler states that he is often asked if XP can work with anyone less than the absolute best. He replies glibly that he doesn't know as he only works with the best. Well that approach might work for the high-flying, jet-set of coders of International Rescue, but for the rest of us we have to work much closer to the ground.

It's a well-known fact that Shakespeare's plays were actually written by a large group of monkeys with typewriters and they're some of the most critically acclaimed works of American literature ever written; so the question is not whether or not monkeys can write code, but simply how many monkeys you need.

Many people have questioned how the monkeys will know what to write. The answer is simplicity itself, you need just one skillful and experienced Architect who can translate the customers' needs into a big picture that the monkeys can look at and translate into code.

As monkeys are all the same, and all they do is look at pictures and write code, Waterfall allows you to simply pick monkeys up and move them onto other projects as and when the need arises; this allows for correction of the minor deviations from the plan that may occur if, for example, one monkey were to fall ill. Monkeys moved from project to project or hired on short-term contracts will, with Waterfall, become effectively immediately.

Removing any suggestion that talent is required allows the process and plan to take the positions they rightly deserve as the absolute representation of truth.

This approach also has the great benefit of allowing firms to deliver on their social obligations too. As one less able developer said to me one day:

"Big companies like this have a duty to employ the less able of us"

With the Waterfall process IT managers are genuinely able to say:

"Well, maybe we are a Charity"

And what could be better for your business than making a contribution like this to the community.

Come to this session and find out how Process rather than Talent is what's needed to write really large quantities of code; learn how to estimate the number of lines of code required to implement a product, then using useful metrics like SLOC learn how to incentivise your staff can lead to a large increase in the number of lines they can write each day.