Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Too Much Information

I'm all for the freedom of information, among individuals. In the corporate world, there are sometimes
good reasons not to tell someone part of the story.

Case in point (with serial numbers filed off) - a discussion last week touched upon an old release, where there was a big improvement in performance, brought about when a developer found an inefficiency in transaction processing, removed it. In the process of this release, upper management was pressing for a rationale, and someone offered a detailed explanation of the issue, using the names of the various classes in the code. Because some of the class names were chosen for their purpose in the code, they had a rather ironic connotation in the situation. This led to essentially a disparaging attitude towards the development team in upper management, which is never good, because then the expertise of the developers in their field is undermined.

The Ninja Solution(tm) is to implement a Gaussian blur for the information when talking to upper management (anyone higher up than your immediate superior). Never mention class names to them. Never describe the algorithms by the code names - blur out that level of detail. This prevents the bosses from finding humor in their misunderstandings of the code flows.

Note that this is not a license to lie to them - just to tweak the level of detail you use to report upwards (and sideways - program managers don't need to know class names either.

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