High Jumping Projects 29 May 2007
I spent this past memorial weekend in South Haven with much of my wife’s extended, extended family. Many of the relatives were individuals that my wife has either never met or has not seen in years. My father-in-law was eager to ask me what I’ve been up to lately for work. After about two minutes he stopped me and asked me to wait to finish because he wanted me to share the news with everyone else.

A few minutes later he was introducing me to the extended family and asking me to describe my past few months of events and work. After sharing the past few months of life and work with everyone it seems that the Q&A period started.

One of the questions sticks in my mind from one of my extended family uncles.

“When you work on your projects do you have hundreds of other developers working with you?”

I was pleasantly surprised and eager to answer his question. The answer of course is that no, I have never been on a project of more then six developers. He didn’t seem entirely satisfied so he asked another set of questions.

“When are you expected to be done with the current project you’re on? Could you be done sooner with more people?”

This leads me to the example of The High Jump principle as written in “Talent Is Never Enough”:http://www.amazon.com/Talent-Never-Enough-Discover-Choices/dp/0785214038 . The principle is such that…

Winning the high jump requires one person who can jump seven feet, not seven people who can jump one foot.

Some software projects may indeed take large amounts of people (hopefully the large amounts of people are divided into small manageable teams). So far the projects I’ve been apart of have more in common with The High Jump principle.

“Brook’s Law”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brooks’_law seems to say it best:

“Adding people to a late software project makes it later.”

As “John Maxwell”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_C._Maxwell states in his book “Talent Is Never Enough”:http://www.amazon.com/Talent-Never-Enough-Discover-Choices/dp/0785214038 , “More isn’t always better, and some things are best done by an individual.” Or in the case of most software projects, done by a small team.

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