When asked recently on radio-four about the English Cricket Board's accepting money from Allen Stanford, Frank Cottrell Boyce came back with an interesting perspective:
We have become, over the last twenty years, besotted with people in business. We have kind-of worshiped them as though they know more than the rest of us and we have put them in charge of other things: saying people with managerial and business skills, should be running schools, should running hospitals. [This is] as though these skills are transferable and, actually, I think the last few weeks has shown these people are as deluded, as romantic and as bizarre as an addicted absinthe-toting poet on the Paris left-bank in the nineteenth century.... It's as though when someone turns up with a suit on we believe them.
For some I think he struck a nerve. He went on to imply that it is better to have someone passionate about the business. That can adapt for what is best for the business, rather than trying to make organizations fit into business practices. However business practices are not all bad, but it is easy to find people who are managers because of the status rather than showing any passion of talent for the job. Money, benchmarks and business can deliver but implementation takes leadership. Suit or not.
The software business, too, has characters who's effectiveness is questionable. I sometimes wonder whether the agile development world is about to make some of the same mistakes as the earlier development methodologies. Quite recently Martin Fowler wrote an article on Flacid Scrum, the core of Agile are a set of technical practices that promote good software development: forgetting this and putting Processes over Interactions is a dangerous move leading to rotten code-bases. I have been in a position in the past to question how people could manage a company who's core business was software and know nothing about how software is put together. Certainly some of the best technical firms has been run by ex-engineers. A while ago Jeff Atwood post about the programming industry and the amazing gulf between the worst of programmers and the average programmer. Sometimes recession is good for an industry and past recessions have been good for technology.