Building the Sydney Opera House with a rubber chicken

One interesting problem that occurs in large organisations is how to distribute the skills and knowledge of people with experience in both the domain, as well as technology, to those with less experience.
Historically, this has been a document driven approach with chapter upon chapter of architectural direction, pattern usage, framework description and mandatory tool use.
I find this approach to working in teams similar to trying to build the Sydney Opera House witha rubber chicken. The teams are given the plans to this beautiful building, magnificently specified, but are left holding a rubber chicken with which to attempt this feat.
While it is all very nice to want to build the Sydney Opera House, a group of people with rubber chickens aren’t going to do anything of much use, other than bemuse passers by, and occasionally entertain themselves. I’d much prefer to help people learn how to use the hammer, saws, slide rules, nail guns required to build all sorts of structures, and guide them in the direction of the Sydney Opera House, knowing that we’ll end up with a nice school hall, rather than nothing.
There is too large a conceptual gap when dealing with domain and technology experience to expect that inexperienced people can build _anything_, without having a good command of the basic tools of the trade.
The next time that you’re working with a team, make sure that the list of things that are part of the project initiation include “do we have the right team of people, with the right basic skills”.
Otherwise, you may as well hire some professional clowns, at least they’re going to know exactly how to use those rubber chickens.


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