VB.NET Interview Questions #3How To Create Application Plug-ins In VB.NET

Sacred Cows Make Great Steaks

October 8th, 2007

Some Sacred Cows can disguise themselves quite well.Do you feel like you are in a creative rut either as an individual or a team? How many sacred cows does your organization have? Are they holding you back in developing the best software you can? I started thinking about this after reading the US Navy Monkey Experiment article. Often in software development teams and individual programmers as well, invent sacred cows. These ‘cows’ can be a particular language, tool kit, or methodology. Eventually it gets to the point where the organization, or person, becomes unable and unwilling to adapt to change. Ultimately, it’s a self-defeating paradigm.

I see this a lot in teams and individuals who’re unwilling to move on from VB6. They cling to their sacred cow and refuse to consider alternatives whether it’s VB.NET, C#, Java, or something else. You’ll see this in the fervor some attach to the latest new methodology. The problem is that creative thinking is sacrificed to the cow. People get so locked into the approach they’re using that they’re unable to see the merits of alternative approaches. Like the monkeys in the experiment they attack anyone who tries something out of the norm.

Time for a BBQ?

Is it time that you turn your sacred cows into steaks? Here are some steps you can take.

1. Ask why are we doing things this way?

If you can’t answer this then you might be like the monkeys in the story, simply acting on what someone else told you without really knowing why. But, if you can answer it, then…

2. Ask does this reason still exists?

Maybe you know why you or your team started doing things this way but are the reasons for this still applicable? It may have been a good idea to start a new project in 1998 with VB6 but is it still a good idea in 2007? Perhaps a programming library worked well for Project A but it’s a burden to use it in Project B. Is it really a good idea to use it? Be willing to make some tough choices and stop paying homage to the cow.

3. Ask what are the pluses and minuses of continuing to do things this way?

There could be good reasons to continue doing what you’ve been doing. Are there? Once you’ve reached this point you should prepare yourself to honestly answer if the pluses outweigh the minuses or vice versa. At least by going through the exercise, especially as a team, you should be able to identify where improvement is needed. Sometimes only minor adjustments are needed but other times tougher measures may be required. Sometimes a destructive change, where old ways are discarded, can be helpful. Take the time to evaluate this possibility in yourself or in your team and see if it applies to you.

Let me know if you have made this kind of change or if you think this kind of change isn’t necessary by leaving me a comment. I would like to hear your opinions.

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Entry Filed under: Development Teams, Personal Development

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Feed your audience during&hellip  |  October 8th, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    [...] something simple, yet helpful. Check out this post that Frank from VBNotebookfor.NET wrote about how sacred cows can inhibit creativity in production teams; it dispenses some timeless knowledge (check), gives some advice, and is very concise. This [...]

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