Drucker s Challenge in Visual Studio .NET

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14 Drucker s Challenge
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De ning software development as knowledge work doesn t allow us to ignore the issue of productivity Productivity and quality are still very important to the success of a business venture The management guru Peter Drucker forecast the emergence of this issue as long ago as 1969: Knowledge work is not easily de ned in quantitative terms, To make knowledge work productive will be the great management task of this century, just as to make manual work productive was the great management task of the last century Peter Drucker (1969) How you measure productivity in software development is a good question It is most certainly not lines of code, function points or hours worked Still, no matter how dif cult it is to measure, we are producing something and we can always improve productivity and quality Perhaps we just have to live with this ambiguity Any attempts to quantify software development productivity must make allowance for the multiple results of such work In developing a piece of software we create a deliverable executable, but there are by-products The developers themselves increase their stock of knowledge about their tools, about the subject of the software and about the creation process Similarly, managers, users and others involved with the speci cation, implementation and delivery of the software will learn as a by-product Despite the problems of measuring productivity, we can still discuss the issues, and we can still ask how we can address Peter Drucker s challenge Much of this book is directed at addressing this challenge: How can we make software developers more productive The Agile and Lean schools give us the methods to increase developer productivity, but we still need to apply them The challenge we face is less What can we do to be more productive and more How can we move from here to there from where we are today to more productive practices and How can we continue to improve our productivity In other words: How do we change How do we continue to change How do we go beyond our current stock of knowledge
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15 The Prototype of Future Knowledge Workers
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Highlighting IT workers as knowledge workers allows us to learn from the existing body of knowledge on the subject IT workers are not alone; they are knowledge workers and there s much to learn from other knowledge workers, and from research and literature about knowledge work in
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Introduction
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general There s no need for IT managers (and writers) to re-invent the wheel Yet, in another way, the existing literature, research and experience can t help IT workers and their managers This is because IT workers, and software developers in particular, are at the cutting edge of knowledge work In many ways, they re the prototype of the future knowledge worker; they re pushing the boundaries of twenty- rst century knowledge work This occurs because, to paraphrase Karl Marx, software developers control the means of production Modern knowledge work is enabled by and dependent on information technology: e-mail for communication, web sites for distribution, databases for storage, word processors for writing reports, spreadsheets for analysis the list is endless! These technologies are created by software developers and used by legions of knowledge workers worldwide The key difference between software knowledge workers and the others is that other knowledge workers can only use the tools that exist If a tool doesn t exist, they can t use it Conversely, software developers have the means to create any tool they can imagine Consequently, it was a programmer, Ward Cunningham, who invented the Wiki Programmers Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston invented the electronic spreadsheet Even earlier, it was another programmer, Ray Tomlinson, who invented inter-machine e-mail This doesn t mean that non-programmers can t invent electronic tools Others can invent tools, but for programmers the barriers between imagining a tool and creating the tool are far lower Lower barriers mean that programmers create many more tools than other types of worker Some tools fail, while others are very speci c to a speci c problem, organization or task in hand, but when tools do work it is programmers who get to use them rst In addition, because IT people have had Internet access for far longer than any other group, the propensity to use it to nd tools and share new tools is far greater So tools such as Cunningham s Wiki were in common use by software developers years before they were used by other knowledge workers Early Internet access has had other effects too: IT workers were early adopters of remote working, either as individual home workers or as members of remote development teams; IT people are far more likely to turn to the Web for assistance with problems and more likely to nd it, because IT information has been stored on the Web since the very beginning The net effect of these factors and others means that software developers are often the rst to adopt new tools and techniques in their knowledge work They re also the rst to nd problems with such tools and techniques Consequently, these workers are at the cutting edge of twenty- rst century knowledge work; they are the prototype for other knowledge workers Other knowledge workers, and their managers, can learn from the way in which IT people work today, provided that we recognize these workers as knowledge workers
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