Software engineers are basically cats

You may be thinking that I’ve gone crazy, or perhaps that I’m just a cat person (in fact I’m a dog one, but that’s not the point).

“Cat” by be creator is licensed under CC BY

In the software development world some times there are projects with challenging deadlines, and the managers, if they don’t see them viable, they try to push them forward in the calendar by any means. Still, some may get scared by the deadline and try to accomplish it by any means.

This last group, at some point, may decide to pressure their teams, and maybe that way they will deliver faster. 


Depending on the type of pressure, it may achieve some impact on productivity in a short amount of time; it will never be possible to apply pressure enough to finish something unfinishable.

Even if the pressure somehow works, it affects the final product quality as an article from The Startup mentions: tunnel vision may affect the project as well as missed opportunities for improving the product due to lack of time.

This article also covers the possibility of creating a balance between these short bursts in productivity and integrating some buffering time. In my opinion, this will not accelerate the project as a whole but may help to achieve a delivery thanks to one of these bursts.

Why pressuring?

There may exist multiple reasons for a manager to decide to pressure its team; the most common is the deadline. But there are many other causes, as the team may not be accomplishing the business expectations of the company or a lack of communication between the product owners.

Besides these reasons, there are some more uncommon that may happen, for example, an inexperienced manager or even worse a manager that is not related to the software development processes.

How does pressure affect us?

The deadline novel covers present two charts as to how the pressure can be understood:

Image extracted from “The deadline: A novel about project management”

The chart on the left is the one the pressuring agent (the manager) thinks is going to happen; the more the pressure the time to deliver will improve, and even if more pressure is applied, no consequence will happen.

The one on the right is the one everyone may think is the more logical, the one that gives a small burst, but if more pressure is applied, it will be counterproductive.

But in reality, the novel tells us that the more pressure is applied it will not affect the project greatly at the end:

Image extracted from “The deadline: A novel about project management”

Programmers are basically cats

No, I’m still not crazy.

This example was used in the book, and I really liked it, when you punish a cat for some misbehavior the cat will not feel remorse and will not doubt of doing it again, a dog in the other hand, will try to hide its actions if it decides to do it again.

Cats are cynical

When a programmer is pressured in a project, in the beginning, that person may decide to work a bit more. Still, the more pressure receives, the programmer will ignore it and work as always because we are cynical and know that nothing can be done to improve the original problem. We are cats.

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