You Got to Believe

We had a number of changes to make to our system recently. Once of the changes was still in a state of flux when we completed gathering the requirements. So it was delayed a bit. All of a sudden we needed to create a design for this change. The design work got sent to me. I was told to spend a day banging out a design. This was a large change. There was no way the design would be complete in a day.

I spent almost a week putting together a design for the change. For the items I knew I would code myself, I skipped over all the detail. I completed around 90% of the design for the rest of the system. Some of the items were put together quickly. But I mapped everything out and provided almost all the details.

Then it came time to code up the changes. This is supposed to be the fun part. I went to town writing the part of the code assigned to me. I spent most of the time testing out my changes. This was a part of the system that requires a lot of complex test data to vet. Another developer worked on most of the other changes. He called me up with some questions about the design. I explained everything to him. He seemed good.

Towards the end of the design, the developer working on the code came to me and said he could not get some of the data to turn out correctly. I recommended he dig into the code and find out why things were going awry. The developer later came back and asked me if he could just hack some code onto the end of the process. Now I am just a peer of this guy. But since he was coming to me for advice, I recommended he trace the code from beginning to end and understanding why the result were going wrong.

Later I get many emails and calls from this developer. He traced the reason for the problems. And he was asking me what to do. This is very disturbing. The guy isn't a newbie from out of school. He is an older developer that has a Ph D in Computer Science. I give him some quick ideas on how things should work and send him off. He comes back to me and tells me things are not working as I had explained. Fine. I took a deep dive and found that things were indeed more complicated than I thought. So I provided some advice on how to proceed.

A week later I get more more questions from this guy on what to do. We are in a crunch. But I still tell the guy how one would figure this out. He proceeds to do so. But he still comes back to me to report his findings and ask me if what he did is correct. I got to figure out how to coach this guy. Perhaps he is afraid of failure. Or perhaps he knows he is going to fail and needs someone to assign blame. I don't know. I need to find out. I can't keep on doing his job and mine. No time for that.