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97 Things Every Software Architect Should Know by Richard Monson-Haefel

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Chapter 25. Warning: Problems in Mirror May Be Larger Than They Appear

Dave Quick is the owner, chief architect, janitor, and sole employee of Thoughtful Arts. Thoughtful Arts develops off-the-shelf software for musicians and provides software design consulting for companies who develop music, or arts-oriented software.

Dave Quick
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I’VE WORKED ON HUNDREDS OF SOFTWARE PROJECTS. Every one had issues that caused more problems than the team expected. Often, a small part of the team identified the issue early on and the majority dismissed or ignored it because they didn’t understand how important it really was until it was too late.

The forces at work include:

  • Issues that seemed trivial early in the project become critical after it is too late to fix them. While the boiling frog experiment may be folklore, it’s a useful analogy for what happens in many projects.

  • Individuals often face resistance when the rest of the team does not share their experience or knowledge. Overcoming this resistance requires unusual courage, confidence, and persuasiveness. It rarely happens, even with highly paid, experienced consultants specifically hired to help avoid such problems.

  • Most software developers are optimists. Painful experience teaches us to temper our optimism, but without specific experience we tend toward optimism. Natural pessimists on development teams are often unpopular, even if they are consistently ...

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