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Observe that for the programmer, as for the chef, the urgency of the patron may govern the scheduled completion of the task, but it cannot govern the actual completion.
An omelette, promised in two minutes, may appear to be progressing nicely. But when it has not set in two minutes, the customer has two choices --- wait or eat it raw. Software customers have had the same choices.
The cook has another choice; he can turn up the heat. The result is often an omelette nothing can save --— burned in one part, raw in another.
Now I do not think software managers have less inherent courage and firmness than chefs, nor than other engineering managers. But false scheduling to match the patron's desired date is much more common in our discipline than elsewhere in engineering.
It is very difficult to make a vigorous, plausible, and job-risking defense of an estimate that is derived by no quantitative method, supported by little data, and certified chiefly by the hunches of the managers.
Clearly two solutions are needed. We need to develop and publicize productivity figures, bug-incidence figures, estimating rules, and so on. The whole profession can only profit from sharing such data. Until estimating is on a sounder basis, individual managers will need to stiffen their backbones and defend their estimates with the assurance that their poor hunches are better than wish-derived estimates.
I'm pretty sure that estimating hasn't changed at all since this was originally written (1982 or so).
If the chicken has already crossed the road, then you no longer have to implement Agile.
No, no, no - that's not how Agile™ works. The chicken stops every six inches while it walks across the road (these are 'sprints'). It verifies with the stakeholder (aka the farmer) at each point that he's getting what he wants, i.e. the chicken across the road. The farmer can adjust the chicken's route any time he likes.
Of course, none of the principals notice the traffic on the road...
Yeah, you are correct that the original Mythical Man Month was written in 1975 but I wasn't sure if this was part of the original or the revision (1982) so I guessed the latter so I woudln't make it sound too old.
If one of those women was already eight months pregnant, and those chances increase if you (randomly) take more women.
Or have them steal a baby, at least one out of nine should be successful!
If I wanted a baby, and I wanted it as fast as possible, I'd take as many women as I could get and not take any chances