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The Art of ‘Ware (V 2.0, maxim 2:4): prolonged development

March 27, 2008 0 Comments

[From The Art of ‘Ware (Version 2.0) by Bruce F. Webster (forthcoming), Chapter 2, “Supporting Development”]

When a company is drained by competition, it is because product development and marketing have taken too long. Prolonged development cripples the company.

Developers can typically sustain a high level of energy for 18 to 36 months, depending on how hard they’re being pressed. After that, they start looking around for something new to work on. A project that takes too long getting out the door runs the danger of never shipping, because key developers keep leaving to work on something else, either within the company or outside of it.

There are other significant internal and external problems caused by prolonged development. People within the company begin to lose heart, bicker, and find fault with each other. Customers question the company’s ability to deliver products in a timely fashion. Competitors use your delays against you to win customers and sow doubt about you.

Even allies begin to doubt and may seek to distance themselves from you. During the very long year between our original ship date at Pages Software Inc. and and the date when our product (Pages by Pages) actually went out the door, someone at NeXT swore we’d never ship and said he’d eat a can of worms if we ever did. We did ship, on March 7th, 1994. We never heard if this person carried out his promise; we certainly kept our end of the bargain.


Compare suntzu pingfa (Chapter 2: “Doing Battle”):

No nation has ever benefited from protracted warfare. (Sonshi translation)

About the Author:

Webster is Principal and Founder at at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor for the BYU Computer Science Department. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at 303.502.4141 or at

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