Derik Whittaker



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Should not be 'The Business', but should be 'Our Business'

Last night I was listening to a recent HanselMinutes pod casts where he was talking with Tom & Mary Poppendiek.  For those of you who do not know who Tom & Mary are, they are the 2 behind a lot of the lean software movement (books here & here).

There was a statement made in the episode by Tom that really stuck to me and actually caused me to have a 'ah-ha' moment.  The statement that Tom made was that we as developers tend to refer to business owners as 'The Business' in place of referring to them as 'Our Business'.

The difference may seem subtle, but in actually it is quite substantial.  By referring to business as 'The Business' we are making the statement that we have no say or no influence in the decisions being made or the direction to be taken.  It also implies that we as developers (or IT personal in general) are in some way inferior to the people making the decisions. 

When we refer to the business as 'Our Business' we are doing multiple things.  First we are saying that we have ownership and knowledge in the business and have the ability to not just code, but to make decisions.  We are also saying that we have more ownership in the product by including ourselves in the 'Business'

The differences between the terms 'The Business' and 'Our Business' may seem small, but in reality they are huge.  Think about, reflect on it.  Let me know your thoughts.

Till next time,

[----- Remember to check out DimeCasts.Net -----]

Posted 07-10-2008 9:06 AM by Derik Whittaker
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KG2V wrote re: Should not be 'The Business', but should be 'Our Business'
on 07-10-2008 10:22 AM

That's implying that we DO have any say "You know, I heard the end users wishing for X" "Oh, they will never use it, don't write that" (and in the mean time they are about to outsource us because we don't give them what they want)

Sigh - but in a good world, yeah, it's OUR business

Derik Whittaker wrote re: Should not be 'The Business', but should be 'Our Business'
on 07-10-2008 10:27 AM


We do have a say, or at least we better have one.  We (developers) are smart people.  If we do not clearly understand the business domain, how can we be expected to create quality products?

With this knowledge comes ownership and say.

KG2V wrote re: Should not be 'The Business', but should be 'Our Business'
on 07-10-2008 2:06 PM

With knowledge SHOULD come ownership and say.  Unfortunately, sometime management tells you NOT to do what your knowledge tells you to do - what then?

Sidar Ok wrote re: Should not be 'The Business', but should be 'Our Business'
on 07-11-2008 5:48 AM

Capitalism...Your work power is not enough, it will also demand your soul... :)

Mark Freedman wrote re: Should not be 'The Business', but should be 'Our Business'
on 07-13-2008 10:32 AM

Tom's comment just reinforced what I've been preaching to my development staff.  I understand the cynicism here, but you cannot be intimidated by the rest of the business attempting to dictate the direction of software development.  You have got to be extremely persistent, with proof backing your insistence that your solution is best for the business.  AND you have to have an open mind that maybe you are wrong, and you may learn something about the business you're working in.

If you aren't willing to step up to the rest of the business and show you are willing to work *with* them for the benefit of the business, then you will always just be a pawn.

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