A long time ago in a university not so far away, I was about to commence a subject that every body said was one of the most fundamental subjects available. Software Engineering; Processes and Tools. Before that, I had completed(barely) the prerequisite for that which introduced us to the basics of Software Development. So I was excited and very motivated to get this one down pat. I really wanted to do this right and learn as much as I could about the intricacies of designing and developing software in a team environment.

Apart from the usual load of assignments, tests, tutorials and final exam, the one thing that marked this subject out was a large project designed to be completed in a team environment. Whereas previously, in the prerequisite, I had worked with just one other person, this subject would involve teams of five and/or six. I was very excited and immediately approached a few of my friends in the same year and we all agreed to do this project together. I distinctly remember thinking at that point, this is going to be fun!

Alas, I was wrong. Very very wrong. And all the misery that ensued from that point on had one and one simple reason. I was not objective! Don’t get me wrong, my friends were very talented and committed, but they had different scales of working. They all worked in a different manner, some at different times of the day! Some worked at home while some preferred to pull night shifts in the university! The only thing that bound us, was that we were friends! And therein lies the problem. Had I approached my friends on the basis that they were very talented people with whom I could objectively work and finish this project and my friends, in specifically that order, we might have developed very good software. As it turned out, my priorities were skewed. I wanted friends to work with, not to work with friends.

Hence the point of this post. One must always, always, be objective. If you are working with friends, in a professional environment, you must be able to tell the truth to them, in front of others and in private. If you are leading a team, then you must be able to tell people to pull their weight, first by example and then by actions. Being friendly with your friends only works when all of you are clearly working towards a goal and objectives are clear. Trust me, friendships are strengthened when you are brutally objective towards each other professionally.

Postscript: We managed to pass the subject, but ended up not learning much. And thanks to ashridah for the objective talk after my results.

About “Mujtaba Hussain”

I have no idea what to write here :(