The pragmatic view of mid-game work focuses on programmers writing code. The only way the project moves forward is with each line of code written that brings the project closer to completion (pet features, unneeded optimizations, etc., do not move the project forward). All of the planning and design effort that takes place before programmers write code, whether done by them or by others, is done to create an efficient sequence of work for them to do while the clock is ticking. This is called the coding pipeline.
It's the PM's job to make sure the coding pipeline is running smoothly. While programmers might own the management of the pipeline and decide who works on what, (3) it's still the PM's responsibility to make sure that the programming team has as much support as necessary to make it work. This may involve gopher tasks, organizing meetings, nagging various people to finalize decisions, or, in some cases, resolving the remaining design issues (4) (see Figure 14-4). The PM may have to work a few days in front of the programmer, finalizing designs and feeding the pipeline. If a PM is responsible for the work of several developers, she will have to carefully prioritize her time to ensure she can juggle the competing demands of multiple pipelines (another reason why the lead programmer should be doing some or more of this work).