A few weeks ago we had a “lessons learned” session where all the developers, QA people and field circus engineers got to talk about why development cycles are getting longer, we’re finding more and more bugs, and people are getting more disgruntled. It was amazing how many people thought that what we really need are clear requirements that don’t change from day to day, proper development methodologies, design review meetings, code reviews, etc. At the end of the meeting, our boss’s boss came into the meeting and the meeting facilitator gave him a precis of what was going to be in his report. On the way out of the meeting, a developer who is just as experienced and cynical as I turned to one of our younger colleagues and said “You realize that now that we’ve had the meeting and had a chance to vent, management will think the problem is fixed”.
Since that meeting, however, I’ve noticed that our boss’s boss’s secretary seems to be devoting herself full time to sanctioned morale boosting activities. So far we’ve had new golf shirts with the project logo on them, a hot dog lunch to celebrate “National Hot Dog Day”, an announcement that next week we’re going to be celebrating “National Cheese Pizza Day” (I responded with a request for “National Lobster Thermador Day”), a bunch of posters with “inspirational quotes” (many of which turned out to be bogus, like the Thomas Watson “world market for five computers” quote), a “Thank you wall”, and a few others that I’ve forgotten.
So why am I scared? Because the only other times I’ve seen developers demanding better development support, design reviews, etc, and getting morale building days instead have been on programs that were on their way into the crapper.