Shiny Silver Bullets again

That Silver Bullet guy came calling again, but this time we were prepared. We made a quick call and sent him packing, trussed up in the back of a Turing Patrol squad car and still hollering about the O(N) sort written “In FORTH, in FORTH! Don’t you get it? In FORTH!” I swear that I heard one of the Turing cops radio ahead for Thorazine.

The problem with wackos is that they often exude confidence and suck in your bosses with reasonable arguments bit by bit until you find yourself forced to tell your management “These people are bozos, please believe me that this methodology is about as likely to generate good code as rubbing two ducks together.” Yet on Monday you’re in the mandatory 7am team meeting, rubbing duck feathers into your hair and repeating a mantra chosen for you by the Holy Duck of Software Quality. “WebTwoOhWebTwoOh…” Yes, and you have office-mates now. Three of them. One to watch you type, one to watch the person watching you type, and one to watch that person and make sure that everyone is talking in the correct Agile Duck Code (e.g., “Quackity quack quack” means, “Refactor that method and shout out the new verbal documentation down the hallway so that everyone knows.”)

If it’s borderline fucked up, it’s agile. I think that’s probably the official definition of Agile.

Anyway, back to our raving looney. In all the fuss he somehow forgot his briefcase. And naturally, being the curious sort, we decided to take a look at the tools that snake-oil-and-silver-bullet salesmen carry around.

Did I say briefcase? More like a Mary Poppins bag. We turned it over, gave it a good shake, and wished we hadn’t.

Empowerification. The moment you hear this word, take your trusty six-shooter out and start pulling the trigger. Six times, if you please, after which you must wait beside the body until after sunset, then burn it and bury the ashes at a crossroads with three priests standing by doing heavy-duty priest stuff.

“You’re sure this guy isn’t coming back?”

“Um, Is this the two dollar burial or the five dollar burial?”

“I paid each of you guys about a bajillion bucks.”

“He ain’t coming back.”

Collaborificate. “Truly,” said the Prophet, “If you are travelling on the same road together, you are cooperating, or at least not trying to kill each other, are you not collaborificating?” Judging by the recent attempts on my life, my fellow travellers on the freeway into work are more interested in offing me for parking space. A lot of collaborification in the computer industry is like that; get in there with your new code real quick before some other bozo breaks the build and you have to stay all night picking up the shrapnel. Collaborification is what teams do to each other across a no-man’s land, from muddy trenches. Collaborification is what you do when you’re too bloody chicken to pick up a phone and just yell at someone for a while; it’s sneaky, underhanded stuff that gets the job done, with a minimum of having to find inventive places to hide bodies.

“Um, there might be a problem.”

“What?”

“One of the incantations we used? Well, it was kind of in Beta.”

“WHAT?”

Agile. I prefer the term twisty. Agile will get into your org’s bones and chew the marrow out of them, quick as a wink; it’s like hydroflouric acid for the soul. Any processes you have now that might possibly work will be tossed onto the pile and burnt in the square. Mmmm, marshmallows. Welcome to the Dark Ages. Do you like Shmores?

“I don’t care. Look, you get on horn to the Holy Guy Support and get a patch for that incantation, you get that update and apply it, I don’t know, reboot the whole bloody rite and start over again with F8 and some Goddamned fresh holy water this time –”

Scrum.  What did you do yesterday?  Nothing?  Me, neither.  Today: I think a long nap after lunch, after which why don’t you join me in the Underbarrows and kick some Orc butt.  Am I blocked?  Isn’t that kind of a personal question?

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