Crunch mode programming FAIL

Credit: flick/Wonderlane

We learned 100 years ago pushing workers too hard makes for less productivity. When will programmers learn?

A blog post by Evan Robinson, "Why Crunch Mode Doesn't Work: Six Lessons" resurfaced again, and the debate over death marches, 80+ hours per week demanded by software managers, began anew. Henry Ford made the 40 hour, five day week the norm in 1926, after a dozen years of testing in his factories.

Software management, of course, often feels more time pounding the keys means more production. But intellectual breakthroughs, and creativity, need reflection time, not more keyboard time. And Robinson even states that after a certain point, "each additional hour worked produces negative value." How? Mistakes that take time to be fixed.

The schedule

Most software schedules are falsehoods and everyone knows it. This is where the problem of crunch time starts.

Dean Schutze on

Anyone who took business studies (or media studies) at school should be aware of the law of diminishing returns.

AnthonyHJ on

Finding out that the company just hasn't scheduled resources properly, has let projects slide without correction and expected that they'll get "magically caught up" at the end is just lunacy

Kren on

True for me

Just by observing the results of my work over the years, I know that pushing myself to work more results in lower-quality code: More bugs, less documentation, more corner-cases that I failed to consider.

Peter Wagener on

The more demanding the cognitive task, the more important sleep and relaxation are. That is why in Steve McConnell's classic Rapid Development he advocates a 35 hour week.

btilly on

I wonder if one thing that distinguishes successful startup founders is that they are immune to some force that limits the amount of productive work that other people can do.

pg on

Assigning blame

Software development is hard to schedule accurately because user expectations evolve during the application building process. The analogy with home construction is a customer walking through a half-built house and saying, "now that I see the fireplace there, I can see it would be much better over here".

Kirstan Vandersluis on

Getting a memo an hour before home-time saying that it is mandatory to stay at work for another 6 hours unpaid doesn't win management any friends.

Paladin on

All management that I've seen dislikes people with 'distinction', 'rock stars', 'mavericks'... The reason is they make rewards inevitable.

kamaal on

How many hours are you supposed to work? How many hours can you give a quality performance?

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