Wednesday, 12 September 2007

How long to change a culture?

A current project I have on the go is writing a C# console app to replace an ageing VB5 application.

For many on the project, this is the first time writing production C# instead of VB. In addition we're aiming at a SOLID design, aided by NUnit, Spring.Net and of course Cruise Control.Net.

A reoccurring challenge we've faced on this project is re-learning how to write software. Its more than just learning a new language, tool or framework, its more like loosing the shackles of apartheid. This analogy may seem a little strong, but it was quite clear to me after discussing with an Afrikaans South African (in his 20's) just how long it would take for his country to be free of apartheid's effects: we concluded at least three more generations.

Whilst I know that the team won't have to be great-great-great-grandparents before we loose the shackles of VB and procedural programming, I need to remember that cultural of change of any sort doesn't just happen overnight!

This was further driven home to me today when ThoughtWorks met with us to discuss an upcoming project. They shared how to aid culture change, they send newbies on a boot-camp that lasts 6-8 weeks!

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