How Good Software Goes Bad

The Aunt Sara Principle

January 31st, 2006 by Hans Bjordahl :: 8 Comments

A job pays in the lessons learned along the way. Well, sure, the money’s nice too : ) , but in my career I’ve found that perhaps the greatest value you can get from a job is the ability to spend each year becoming demonstrably smarter and wiser than you were the year before.

So my first “real” job out of college was at a bicycling industry marketing firm called “Catalyst Communication,” and the CEO then (as now) was Leslie Bohm. Catalyst produced catalogs and “SuperSale” promotions for bicycle retailers nationwide. One of the first lessons I learned about business was one of Leslie’s favorite business parables, the “The Aunt Sara Principle.” Leslie told it something like this:

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Bug Bash is a comic strip written and illustrated by Hans Bjordahl. Bug Bash is a comic strip about technology: managing technology, the business of technology. It's about project management and managing projects through the dull world of Rational Rose, use cases, and requirements. Functional requirements, user requirement, functional specifications, design specifications, call it what you want but it's still the bane of project managers. And when you're done with that, you can think about all the fun that comes with timelines, scheduling, estimates (PERT estimation anyone?) and resourcing until Gantt charts are coming out of your ears. Let's not forget the risk management in the software engineering life cycle. Maintaining the project is just as much fun, managing what was initially set out in requirements and trying to keep feature creep / scope creep in check with change management. If any of these words send nightmares to you, the project manager, then this site probably rings true with you. (Who Links Here?)