Monday, February 06, 2006

Skunkworks Project: Apple's Graphing Calculator

Here is the story of a famous skunkworks project at Apple, the Graphing Calculator. It provides fascinating insights into how and why software developers work. Also, it is a fun story.

My favourite quote from the story is:
"I asked my friend Greg Robbins to help me. His contract in another division at Apple had just ended, so he told his manager that he would start reporting to me. She didn't ask who I was and let him keep his office and badge. In turn, I told people that I was reporting to him. Since that left no managers in the loop, we had no meetings and could be extremely productive."
Arguably, Ron Avitzur, who wrote the story, was in fact the project manager, but he certainly did not think of himself that way. It is unlikely that anyone else did either. He just did what had to be done to make the project work.

Sounds to me like Alistair Cockburn's "ri" stage of project management.

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