Friday, June 27, 2008


Yet another reason why knowledge management is problematic...

The goal of knowledge management tends to be to extract the knowledge out of developers. How many software developers have you met that like to write documentation...

Documentation at any level is boring and probably the last thing anyone technical wants to work on. Consider the fact that us enterprisey architects who hang out with process weenie project managers can concoct ridiculous deliverable dates that require developers to work nights and weekends, do you really think that even if they made the effort, it would be of high quality?

Recently, I had a conversation with a developer whom I will refer to ask DEMO. If I were to ask him for documentation, he would send me the source code of his latest creation and want to talk to me about all the cool things he thought about. In his mind, why should he write documentation when the source code is documentation and more complete?

On many occasions I have suggested us do pair programming together and he resists the idea. I don't think it is about my competencies but more about having someone else step on his masterpiece. Besides, I might give him feedback that he really isn't interested in hearing and will have to oblige for perception management purposes. I guess I am blessed at some level, in that he would probably get torqued if it were someone other than me asking in the sense that he knows I will respect his pride in understanding the depth of a solution, something that is increasingly lost on others.

Interestingly enough, I have watched way too many developers attempt to take pride in their work only to watch those on the other end simply shut down and play with their Crackberries. I wonder if those who champion knowledge management within large enterprises have ever heard of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People where it encourages seek first to understand, then to be understood?

So if knowledge management doesn't do a better job of understanding the human aspects of technology, does it become shelfware doomed to mediocrity? Has anyone ever thought about why developers hide out at their desk and blow off meetings? I bet you haven't figured out that compilers aren't judgemental, but those attempting to implement knowledge management may be...

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