Watts Humphrey shares his 'Reflections on Management'
June 18, 2010 —
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Watts Humphrey headed the IBM development team that introduced the first software license, and he later served as its director of programming and vice president of technical development. He is a fellow of the Software Engineering Institute and the Association for Computing Machinery, as well as a recipient of The United States Patent and Trademark Office's National Medal of Technology.
Accolades and accomplishments aside, he's also made his share of mistakes, and from his decades of experiences, he learned hard lessons about how software projects should be managed, how to manage teams, his bosses and himself. Humphrey recounts those experiences in his recent book, "Reflections on Management," which is the subject of his interview with SD Times.
SD Times: In your book, you discuss at length the impact that poor planning has on quality. How does a programming manager know whether they created a quality plan or not?
Watts Humphrey: A good plan must meet four requirements: It must be in sufficient detail to guide the work; it must accurately represent the costs and time required to do the work; it must be supported by sufficient facts and data to be convincing to senior management; and it must be owned by the development team and represent what all of the members are personally committed to accomplishing.
Since most plans are made by the managers and not the developers, they cannot meet requirements 1 and 4 and rarely meet requirements 2 and 3. These requirements can be met consistently when teams make their own plans. However, today’s software developers typically don’t know how to make plans and don’t believe that they should. They generally believe that planning is something that managers do. Changing these attitudes and skills is the key to good planning, and the Software Engineering Institute has developed the Team Software Process to guide developers and their management in doing this. I describe how the TSP does this and why this method is so effective in some of my books and papers.