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On a boat ride from the UK I noticed a gang of women all with sashes and pink-and-black attires. On their sashes shone the logo of EuroDisney. I deduced the shoal to be a mix of family and friends on a bachelorette party. They certainly seemed to behave themselves in that respect.

(This might’ve been a wrong conclusion, but for the sake of this metaphor, let’s suppose they are.)
What I noticed about these kind of parties, is that they don’t always seem that much fun. And how could they? You throw a bunch of people together who, quite often, haven’t seen each other before and expect them to have a blastin’ good time. At least, everybody wants to give the impression they are enjoying themselves, if only for the future-bride’s sake. So she won’t throw too hysteric a tantrum about having the “worst second-best day of her life”.

Ok, I’m just spewing cliché’s here.

Still, I often feel the same way as one of those women must feel while I’m testing on a software project.

In my experience, initially, most software projects fail. There isn’t much fun to be had. Pressure is high, timing too narrow, scope too unclear and/or budget too tight.

Even though everybody knows that we won’t be able to keep up appearances and that we’ll eventually have to deal with a customer that “can’t believe you can’t make it work”, we keep on smiling.

Yes, we’ll do our best next sprint! Sure, increase our workload!
Yes, we’ll work after hours and have a pizza party!
Yes, we’ll celebrate that one minor win we had!
No requirements? Oh! We’ll just have to use our imagination!
Quick, demo is coming up! Make sure everything seems to work!
Look at how much fun we’re having, we must be doing something right…

One way this metaphor doesn’t match is felt in the end. Bachelorette parties can often become really fun (with enough alcohol, I suppose) or end successfully by keeping up the charades (not too much alcohol, in this case).

Bachelorette

Projects, on the other hand, seldom fix themselves without everything escalating.
Is it peer pressure? Is it human nature? What are the external factors?

While I don’t have the answers to the above questions, I often find myself on this kind of boat, making haste to some cliffs. I’m usually the guy screaming in the crow’s nest.

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