Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

26 Feb 2009, 0:05 a.m.

Can I Be The Gardener From "Being There"?

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2009 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

Creating custom software, and perhaps client services in general, are more like agriculture than manufacturing. We aren't stamping out identical units and trying to increase "efficiency" by speeding up the process; we can't, because we can't negotiate away the time it takes to grow. Debugging, or copyediting, is like weeding. Creators and managers aren't forcing a thing to happen; we're guiding the creative spirit, feeding it, and guarding the fruit from harm.

Brooks's Law, pointing out that adding more staffers to a late software project makes it later, has something in common with "Nine women can't have a baby in a month." Add that to No Silver Bullet and you see that the irreducible bottleneck is the complicated thought it takes to make a complicated thing, an artifact of (arguably) the summit of human civilization. Not to sound like Louis CK.