What clients never understand…
November 17, 2006, 2:30 pm
Filed under: guide to life, marketing

Brilliant explanation of the opportunity cost of little fixes that will take “only two hours” (at Agile Advice via Joelonsoftware):

“It just takes 2 hours. It can’t hurt!”
It can. We development managers learned it the hard way. We know how programmers think. We know how expensive switching their context is. If Sarah spends just two hours thinking of her old project, she loses a day of productive work on the new one. One day is 10% of a carefully planned iteration wasted if she spends 2 hours sidetracked.In the wild nature of software development shops, however, it never takes 2 hours. 2 hours is the time Sarah is on the phone trying to clarify the problem. 2 hours is the time she is waiting for this phone call, reluctant to get into anything serious. 2 hours is the time Sarah is tweaking her development environment to build her old project. 2 hours is the time Sarah is spending to see if she can come up with a very restricted workaround. 2 hours is the time Sarah is on another phone call, explaining the potential workaround. Not enough time for real solution, no time spent on actually resolving the problem. 10 hours of unplanned and unproductive time is spread out over 3 days. 30% of iteration wasted.

At this point the planning goes down the toilet. The iteration is dead. The new project is slipping late. The rush around the old project yields little results either: with no time for a real solution the best bet there is a quick and dirty fix.

But the harm goes further. Sarah was eager to spend time on programming – she wasted it. She is robbed of her professional satisfaction, the good feeling of achieving the iteration goal and releasing project on time. On the next iteration planning session Sarah can’t help thinking “Why kill time if we don’t stick to the plan anyways?” The team gets the message: “We are NOT seriously doing iterative development. We are going ad-hoc”.

November 9, 2006, 2:11 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

From a response to the WSJ “Capital” column on executive pay:

Check out a chart of the income tax rates (Siegel has a good one in his book “Stocks for the Long Run”) and you’ll see the tax rate on the highest incomes was 90% from the mid-1940’s to 1962 and then 70% from 1962 to late 1970 — hmmm — the same time when CEOs’ comp stayed relatively the same as hourly workers. In 1981 the top marginal tax rate dropped to 50% and is now 35%. When the extra dollar earned by CEOs stopped going mostly to Uncle Sam, the CEOs decided they wanted/needed more.

Better than “economic development” grants
November 9, 2006, 1:28 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

“…The city government over the past 20 years mostly has poured money into general beautification and infrastructure rather than wooing specific industries, says Glen Marker, director of research for World Business Chicago, a not-for-profit economic development corporation headed by Mayor Richard M. Daley…”