Monday, January 21, 2008

Shooting the Heroes and Cowboys

I was just reading a thread on extremeprogramming and someone asked
about hero programmers and cowboys.

People that build empires.
People that will not delegate.
People that re-write every part that some one else wrote.

What are the tactics of these empire builders?
How are the supported by the company/culture?
How do you change them?
How do you remove them?

If it isn't enough to have managers without true understanding I have
watched developers dup management into believing heroics are required
to develop software. Duped into believing that there is only a few
that can develop the product and the rest of the developers take
supportive roles. I have watched these clever developers build
empires to protect themselves and become the prima donnas.

I have seen excellent developers black balled by these empire
builders because the empire builders realized that this person was
skilled enough to replace them. I have watched these empire builders
wait for a power vacuum to occur and rush in and fill the gap. I have
seen them target other developer's features that are late and
secretly criticize the developer. Then, while the developer's
reputation is in doubt, the hero works many late hours and rewrites
the feature and presents it to management, which praises their effort
and commitment to the company. The other developer is then regulated
to a subservient position and his basically layoff fodder for the
next round.

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