I kept on hearing the same kinds of grumbles on the floor and in retrospectives. The team were basicaly saying, we are being forced to use the wrong type of glue. The team are a pasinate lot, and so full and frank debates would flourish on which was the best type of glue, and who knew how best to apply it.
Because i’d heard these grumbles a few times, i started to wonder why my awesome team were still struggling over what seemed trivial to me, just choose one and try it, right?
That is until it dawned on me. What on earth are they trying to glue back together?
The bath, as it turns out.
The problem with gluing the bath was explained to me in great detail, some glues would leave an ugly stain, while others were very messy to handle, some other types of glue would set before the bath was stuck together again, and in most cases the glue wasnt water proof and the bath would leak. Despite this, the team were determined to get this right, they would get the bath glued together!
Why is the bath in two halves? Seems like an obvious question now, but somehow i hadn’t asked that of the team.
“We cut the bath in half because it didn’t fit, someone ordered the wrong size bath” came the reply. So focused on delivery, the team hadnt stopped to think about telling the customer the batch was the wrong size, they just reached for the saw and cut it in half.
Obviously we haven’t stopped writing code, and invested in plumbing, i’m using a metaphor that describes what we have been doing for the last couple of months really well. In fact i can extend it a little further.
When i asked one of the dev team leads why they cut the bath in half, they suggested that they had been told to do so, but had they misunderstood what was being said?
When they had told foggy, the tech lead that they had an issue with the bath, he focused in so tightly on the problem that he only suggested that their plumbing was very complicated and that complexity was storing up technical debt that would be hard to pay down later, began to show them how they should improve and simplify it, he missed the fact that the bath was in two completely. They took his ignorance of the matter as acceptance of the fact.
To compound matters further, when JRH one of the BAs, thought he was being pragmatic in his approach, the developers actually took what he was saying as, stop crying about the glue and just do it. It turns out the BA didnt know the bath was in two either. He had made the same assumption as me, what’s so hard about choosing a glue?
How did this happen? I’m not entirly sure, but i have identified several problems that have grown like mould on a loaf of bread, slow and sure until it becomes unpalatable.
The good news is that the team obviously want to work and want to deliver, so eager to do so, that they made a decision that would allow them to continue to work. In doing so they unwittingly slipped down the rabbit hole.
In my next post i’ll explain how we are dealing with the fat end of the Business Requirement funnel, and this is causing the team to thrash.