Can a Committee Design Software?

In a word, No.

So why dedicate a blog post to the subject?

While committees are renowned for seldom getting much accomplished, there are two other approaches that work.

Individual effort is obvious. A genius, programming maestro or otherwise extremely talented individual can single-handedly create a software design that is a game-changer.

What is less promoted is a team. A team of talented individuals, each with their own strengths, working together can create truly awe-inspiring software.

What is the difference between a committee and a team? The dictionary doesn’t shed a lot of light on the subject:

Committee: “A group of people officially delegated to perform a function, such as investigating, considering, reporting, or acting on a matter.”
Team: “A group organized to work together: a team of engineers.
(American Heritage, 4th Edition)

In real life, what’s the difference between a committee and a team? In my experience, two words: Dedication and Purpose.

We all know about sports teams, where a group of individuals join together to accomplish a goal, and along the way a bunch of sub-goals, such as tactically defining how they’re going to score more points than the other team.

A committee, well, fill in the blanks. We all have opinions on committees. My opinion is that those on a committee are there to represent their individual interests or areas of responsibility, not what’s best for the bigger picture.

Why is a team necessary to create great software? Because today’s software has so many parts that one person can’t do it all. It takes the collective efforts of a team of people, and the combined strengths of those people, to create stunning software.

At the forefront of that lies the Product Manager. The Product Manager’s role is to define and drive the software:

  • Define the vision
  • Get agreement on that vision by all the team members
  • Drive that vision through to completion

There’s no room for a committee in creating software. There is a LOT of room for talent, there is a lot of room for creativity, there is a lot of room for inspiration. Great teams create great software.


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