The Waterfall Project Lifecycle and its Part in my Downfall

Just remembering about waterfalls and how much I hate them. Not the wonderful scenic ones that exist around the world and more interestingly around the universe, but the ones that were created to handle large projects…

Since the time I was involved in software development management I was always interested in the very basics of what was being done to create the final desired application. When I worked in the industry many project lifecycles were studied and I was fascinated by the whole process of trying to get to the very basics of what we were trying to do. My unfortunate experience in this was I became over-pragmatic, after all I was always bringing in new ideas and technologies and felt I should be to fit the image of the creative geek I aspired to be. It was unfortunate because I also had to manage lots of projects, the resourcing and development of them in what was deemed the most appropriate project lifecycle in the financial services at the time – the Waterfall Lifecycle. Add to that the burden of adminstering a quality standards model to what I regarded as subjective as a painting, the ideas and technologies arriving at an increasing pace.

I should add that the Waterfall lifecycles that came out of it were strange models. Imagine a waterfall where the water could appear at any place and time, often to appear going uphill and at times strangely disappearing from existence altogether. Then only to find that it never ever all reached the bottom … and … when parts of it did it was always much later than expected. Water never on budget or in time.

I hated waterfall lifecycles … to me they were serial representations of fuzzy understanding. Well defined in a quality manual but never really understood by anyone caught in them.

So with my failings to reach any budgetary objectives and earning myself layers of stress I failed to achieve any control of the project lifecycle at all. All sorts of project lifecycles were studied, I researched books, manuals and even research papers. When the Internet began showing its promise through the bulletin boards a whole new world opened up again. I made up quite a few along the way, found others to discuss it who were unfortunate to display any interest in the subject at the time, but never really got to the bottom of it. I always felt I needed a cerebral upgrade and plenty of time but both of these gifts evaded me. I often had Pink Floyd music playing during those days and Syd Barrett’s rendition of Chapter 24 in the “I Ching” “All Movement is Accomplished in Six Stages” consistently flowed through my mind, that always seemed to connect with some part of concept I was after, but obviously without all the need to initiate any divination.

However, I did understand a lot of the process of how to achieve cutting edge applications that fulfilled their purpose with often little understood technology but with great speed. I had a lot of pride with this and it did earn me a reputation for it I guess, though I remember many weekends with no sleep until something had been created, (once it was a whole Christmas holiday, possibly with no sleep – I wasn’t watching) … What tenaciousness … What dedication … What an idiot!

With my negative attitudes put aside I still enjoyed the challenge of trying to understand what it was that was really going on and years later I find I am reliving the same questions again and I think its time to look at it with wiser, older and unfortunately more focus challenged eyes.

If anyone ever wants to talk to me about project lifecycles I don’t mind … but I may have some questions.


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