No Silver Bullet

Bullets are made from lead

After several years in the commercial world I returned to the ivory tower to help mentor students in software engineering at RMIT. These students were bright, intelligent and enthusiastic. Also, they were leading the way in a novel approach to teaching the art. One major thing stood out from their work - Agile was the future and waterfall was the past (and an almost dirty concept). They tried so hard to be fair to the waterfall model and tried to understand that it had some use, but I was left with the feeling that they really pitied anyone who used it at all, presumed that it would only be considered under duress and really felt that it had no place anywhere.

Let me be clear here this is not a rant against Agile nor a defence of waterfall, my issue is that as a profession we are selling a story of this replaces that because only new is best rather than a story of use this or that depending on what works best. The former is an easy story to sell, but the later is far more powerful in the long run.

Fredrick Brooks claims that there is still no silver bullet. I hope to shift our mindset from looking for one silver bullet that solves all our software problems to a less exciting but more practical position of we have many tools some better suited to some tasks than others and we need to enable our engineers to choose from a menu. If all our bullets are made from lead (Lead is a base metal - a cheap utilitarian material - that gets the job done) then we can select better for the task at hand. Read More...