Monday, September 22, 2014

A feel-good IT story

Feel-good movies. Aren't these a genre in itself? Don't we all love to see one? If feel-good movies are a genre, then it should be true about stories too. We all love a good story. But have you come across a feel-good IT story? While engaging with customers, colleagues and friends, haven't we all been subjected to stories of accomplishing the impossible? Whatever I have come across has been a cocktail of bravado, boasting and many other undesirable elements. None of them qualified for a good take-away until recently.

A friend of mine narrated a few dark days at a previous job. It started off and ended with what we all have heard many times. A nearly impossible task was thrusted upon my friend, and he accomplished it successfully against all odds. It is what constituted in the story between beginning and the ending that turned out to be interesting. According to my friend, the nearly impossible task was not worrying him. It was not the spirit of youth speaking, but the belief in his team that made him say it. He had a great team. The great team marched, slowly and steadily, to the finish line when the source control system went belly up.

The narrative gets interesting here. His team, a bunch of resourceful engineers, went out and bought a lot of paper cups. They cleared the table in the middle of their workplace. They wrote down the names of the file on the paper cups and placed it on the table. They gathered all the latest source code files and placed in a shared folder on the network. For the next few days when the source control software was being fixed, they had a simple system. Whoever working on a file, copies it from the shared folder and then takes the paper cup with the name of the file to his desk. When they have finished working on their files, it has to be returned to the shared folder and then return the paper cup to the table. This simple process was their version of check-in and check-out of source code files.

The best solution is a simple solution. But to think in simple terms requires a lot of clarity. The team mentioned in the story were determined to deliver the results. They treated the failure of one of the important processes as a minor roadblock and found a simple working interim solution. For me, the key message of the story is a success after battling hurdles. Hence, the story falls under the category of feel-good. There is also another aspect to the story. This method is a simple way to teach source code control to newbies.


Tags: Musings,Source Code,Team

2 comments:

  1. Exactly! Right-O. and cheers that they did that :) I have seen such simple solutions in practice by my mother and her colleagues on various occasions and am glad these guide my life now :) Nice post Nona.

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    Replies
    1. We have a way of complicating things. It is not easy to devise simple solutions. So endorse the simple solutions and try to devise them. :)

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