Friday, May 26, 2006

Itching to code

In IBM's ExtremeBlue internship, there are 4 guys in a team - 3 are technical interns and 1 MBA intern. As the sole MBA intern, it is my responsibility to come with business case for the project. After I came here, I found to my extremely pleasant surprise that I'll be required to do project management also. So, that means that I'm going to be preparing project plans, WBS (Work Breakdown Structures), resource allocations, etc. That requires a lower-level understanding of the project, but not necessarily of the code. But, it's been far too long (almost a year) since I lost wrote any code. ... Looking at my team-mates go over the code, I'm itching to start coding too, or atleast do some code-browsing. And I think I am still competent to do industry-quality software development.

But, at the same time, I think I sort of instinctively recognize that mixing project management with project implementation is probably wrong. At the very least, it will make me busy. It may probably lead to conflict of interest. But, at the higher stages, I think it violates some principle of separation and abstraction. One who is too closely involved in the details will lose sight of the strategic ideas, the bigger picture. And that would be bad for the project and for IBM.

Last weekend, I read the book Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein. It is a military space fiction book, the sort that David Weber is so good at - indeed, Honor Harrington series is my favourite novel series ever. Anyway, in that book, in the Mobile Infantry division, the rule is everybody fights - including whoever assists in administrative and logistical work and including the general himself. Unfortunately, the same can't be said about software development. Somehow, it makes sense to have a proper separation of responsibilities, assuming that people in management have some practical programming experience. After all, you can't ask employees to do what you have never done ...

I think, for me, programming would be a good hobby to have, provided my regular work keeps me away from the computer. As it is, I'm almost addicted to the computer, so under the current circumstances, programming, even as a hobby would be disastrous to me personally. So, after a lot of thought and introspection over the past week, I've decided to refrain myself from going into the code-level aspects of the project. The fascinating aspect of it was realizing how difficult the decision was ...

5 Comments:

At Tuesday 6 June 2006 at 4:25:00 PM IST, Blogger Vijay said...

itz a gr8 project tht u hv.. one of the best in our class :)

if i didn't know u, i would hv doubted coding as a hobby and the itch for coding

enjoi

 
At Sunday 11 June 2006 at 4:27:00 PM IST, Blogger K7 said...

Boss .. One of my biggest learnings out here in Bangladesh is:- there's a big big difference between proposal and implementation .......

It follows a watercycle model .. u implement.. u get difficulties.. u re-propose (change specs) ... and then u reimplement till u get ur final product....

 
At Monday 12 June 2006 at 5:51:00 PM IST, Blogger Sridhar Narasimhan said...

@k7:
Idealistic is not necessarily mutually exclusive with realistic. Sound theory is a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for something to work.
Why is it not sufficient condition ? It is because implementation must also be sound - another necessary condition.
I did not exactly understand what u meant to say, so, I'm interpreting ur comments as that proper implementation technique (iteration is just one of techniques, but I'm assuming it generically) would alone suffice to ensure the success of something. In that case, I disagree...
Since proof cannot be given by examples (unless it is by induction), I cannot *prove* it, but I certain *feel* it to be right.

 
At Friday 16 June 2006 at 8:11:00 PM IST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Sridhar,

Arvind Adiga here. Landed up here through your profile in ||kut. You write really well. Keep posting.
Turning into a business geek?

-Adiga

 
At Monday 19 June 2006 at 12:57:00 PM IST, Blogger Sridhar Narasimhan said...

@adiga:
Nice to see you on the blog ... but yeah, I'm sort of a cross between business manager and a developer. As long as I do work that makes use of both my tech background and my management studies, I'm happy :)

 

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