Carlos Leyva

Silicon Stories

Chapter 3: Process Patterns

Producer Pattern

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The Producer pattern is all about ‘da money. It embodies the business and fiscal implications of the current project. The Producer pattern captures the viewpoint of the executive sponsor who is risking their reputation, and oftentimes their money, on the current venture. When this meme propagates to the entire team the work becomes grounded, helping team members keep things in perspective. The graphic below represents three tradeoffs that must constantly be balanced in any project.

It is often all too easy, especially for technologists, to forget who is paying the rent, and for that matter, that the rent needs to be paid at all (no matter what)! The Director must imbue the team with this pattern so that all project stakeholders focus on business and fiscal responsibility, or at a minimum, develop a keen awareness of these issues. Maintaining a business perspective often facilitates making appropriate tradeoffs when team members are debating alternative strategies.

Show ‘em the money and the team will learn to have a healthy respect for it.

Director Pattern

The Director is all about leadership and vision. This pattern is responsible for promoting the project’s story and ensuring that entropy is fought every step of the way. It is principally responsible for meme propagation and insights. It concerns itself with timely decision making (or breaking) and maintaining the tenuous balancing act between creativity, business, and technology.

The Director is the creative genius and the rock. The pattern (and the role) that project team members must turn to when (not if), from time to time, they find themselves Wandering Around the Desert. It provides both food and drink at the appropriate times. It accepts responsibility without attempting to assign blame.

The Director is also a problem-solving pattern. It concerns itself with the project as a whole; part inspiration, part perspiration, part genius, part sheer will and determination. It is the heart and soul of the endeavor, willing to sacrifice (almost) anything for the end game.

Where there is no vision, the people perish. The Director is the keeper and the defender of the flame. It is the Director’s responsibility to confront Bad Actors and to inspire great performances from good ones. The Producer may put up the money but it is largely a bet that the Director will deliver the goods. This pattern (and role) requires passion:

Movies aren’t for me a piece of life. It isn’t a job, it’s everything. You can’t make them unless you are obsessed. They tend to take you over. They guide your dreams as much as they guide your waking. There’s no escaping movies.

Director Phillip Noyce

(The Bone Collector, 1999)

The same holds for projects that contain software as a principal component. Without the Director meme great software is incapable of coming to life.

The Director must be an embodiment of what Jim McCarthy calls the group psyche:

Your personal authority stems from knowing how to create the team, to initiate its growth, to double and redouble its growth, while empowering the team with good techniques and procedures for creating great software and shipping it on time. Your vision is of the group psyche and of the product of the group psyche, and of how the two relate. Your goal is to be a genuine authority in these matters, not some bogus institutional authority…

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