An interesting take on the SDLC

This is an interesting take on the software development life-cycle (SDLC) for low maturity organizations:

  1. Project Initiation
  2. Wild Enthusiasm
  3. Disillusionment
  4. Chaos
  5. Search for the Guilty
  6. Punishment of the Innocent
  7. Promotion of Non-Participants
  8. Definition of Requirements

I have witnessed this exact series of steps acted out in grueling detail at a number of organizations. My personal favorite is the punch line of finally defining requirements.

What really makes you think is that it is believed that defining requirements is too time consuming. I have even heard “Why should we define requirements? They’re just going to change and we’ll have to update all of the docs!”

For me, software development is largely risk management. Not having requirements against which development and testing occurs is a significant risk. Most immature organizations are able to survive due to the presence of a hero which characterizes them as CMM level 1. This hero has enough knowledge of the desired end result that she effectively embodies the requirements. If this hero leaves or if there is an attempt to scale up development beyond the means of the hero, all begins to disintegrate. Identifying the risk associated with requirements and properly understanding its impact is paramount to a successful project.



  1. As somebody who has had to be the unfortunate hero on far too many jobs – Could you find a way to mention parasitic managers in here. Maybe that’s the promotion of non-participants.
    Parasitic Manager’s Credo:
    Blame the innocent.
    Take credit for other’s work.
    Fire the hero when he tells you off in front of the other parasites.

  2. You bring up a few interesting points. I like the notion of a “parasite” *grin*.
    I’m currently muddling over my own experiences being a hero and working in organizations with heros. It seems that your experience is the common one: the hero is blamed for any problem, treated poorly, often fired, and seen as more of a nuisance than as a means to success. On the flip side, those that are not “ruffling feathers” or “making waves” are left alone, promoted, and in general treated very well. I could delve into psychology to describe why one would expect this but that does little to help the hero out.
    Thank you for your input. One of these days I’m going to aggregate this information and write an article or book or something.

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