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Codermetrics by Jonathan Alexander

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Timeout for an Example: An Unexpected Factor in Success

Here is a story about a surprising metric that I’ve come to believe indicates a greater likelihood of success for coders and software teams. This example involves a software development team working inside a large organization, with about 500 total employees of this company located on a single floor, in an open floor plan mostly made up of cubicles.

I have always been a big believer in the “closed door” policy. That is to say that I have been an advocate of coders getting extended “quiet” time, without interruptions, so they can remain focused once they get in the flow of their work. For this reason, I am always very careful to avoid lots of meetings in the middle of the day, and, personally, I try not to interrupt coders when they are working. I don’t like to be interrupted myself. My theory used to be that an increase in uninterrupted work time would translate to an increase in productivity and high-quality results.

There is a reason I say that “used to be” my theory.

This is just something I happened to notice, not something I was looking to find. As I said, I was already biased. If I had my preference, every coder would sit in an office and could close their door. As it was, in this company everyone was in a cubicle, and was subject to random walk-by interruptions any minute of the day.

In the middle of one of our release cycles, while the coders were working hard on product enhancements and new features, a few team members ...

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