By the way…

Springtime was Jack’s favorite time. He loved the fact that the days were getting longer. The sun was still shining when work was over – ideal for a barbeque with friends. And that’s what he had just planned for next Friday: a little get-together with his workmates. Just three more days to go.

Work was difficult these days. Since the new project started, he felt deeply stressed. Nobody really knew what the new system should look like and what functionality was required. And nobody seemed to care – his demands for detailed requirements were brushed away with questionable arguments like “We will detail our wishes when we come closer to implementing them!” and “Accept the need for change, because the world around us changes so fast!” All this modern stuff sounded to him like some crazy idea. How could we ever develop a good product if no one dares to make a commitment? Where were the planning schedules, the resource requests, and the functional descriptions of the features? How was he expected to do any of the software design and development work without this information?

All of this was forgotten when he entered the house that he shared with his friend Lisa. An intensive aroma of vanilla hung in the air. Lisa looked up when he entered the room. She had cuddled up on the sofa and was reading a book. A hot cup of tea was standing on the small table next to her. “Rooibos Vanilla,” she said, when she noticed Jack taking a deep breath. “Like some?”
“Oh yes, please,” he said, “I need to get my mind off work!” Lisa looked at him, quietly. She knew Jack would tell her what was on his mind. And so he did. The next ten minutes Jack shared all his frustration from work with her. “And none of my workmates would support me!” Jack complained, “Although I know that I’m right. “

“This must be really frustrating,” Lisa said, “But maybe their way of doing it is not as bad as it sounds. The later you make your decisions, the better you can build what you really need!” Jack looked at her and shook his head. As a psychologist, she had no idea about software engineering. He saw that very clearly now.

“By the way, I sent out the invitations for your barbie on Friday,” she said. “I asked for feedback by Thursday and I also asked them about their favorite BBQ meat.” Jack smiled at her, he probably would have forgotten about all of this.

“Great,” he said, “I will run down to the butcher right away and get the meat: 10 steaks, 15 drumsticks, and 20 sausages should do the job! That’s one more task out of the way.”

“Yes, good idea. But are you sure about the amount of meat to buy? We don’t know who is coming and we don’t know what each one prefers. It might be a good idea to wait to buy meat until we receive the responses, don’t you think?” Lisa looked at him with her eyebrows raised. Did he understand the message?

Jack thought a few seconds about her suggestion and a big grin appeared on his face. “I know you,” he said, “You’re trying to teach me a lesson again, eh?” Lisa laughed. “You don’t need lessons from me, Jack. If you have problems, I’m sure you know how to solve them by yourself.”

Of course he did. He went to the kitchen to get a fresh cup of tea. The barbeque would be the right setting to get the support from his colleagues for his idea of upfront specifications. Beer and their favorite meat should show them what a valuable team member he was. “Lisa, Lisa,” he said to himself. “You’ve got no idea about software engineering – but you sure know how people tick!”

Werner Lieblang

Werner Lieblang and Tanja Schmitz-Remberg combine half a century of experience in software engineering and training various groups. Werner is working as a tester trainer and agile coach, Tanja works as a communication and group work trainer. Being friends for ages and sharing an...
Read more about Werner Lieblang

Tanja Schmitz-Remberg

Tanja Schmitz-Remberg and Werner Lieblang combine half a century of experience in software engineering and training various groups. Werner is working as a tester trainer and agile coach, Tanja works as a communication and group work trainer. Being friends for ages and sharing an...
Read more about Tanja Schmitz-Remberg