Coaching and Producing


process. If you think software is much harder than a recording project, a few days in the studio might show you that the amount of emotion, fear, and volatility in the studio is as great (if not greater) than on most software projects.

The Recording Sessions
The recording sessions are where the tracks are cut (parts of a song are recorded). The process is absolutely iterative and incremental. The producer adds continuity by helping the band focus on each song as well as the entire collection of songs.

During the various sessions, the producer first works with the band as they record the songs. After the backing tracks are in place, the producer works with one or more players as they add more to the songs, continually recording and rerecording separate parts for each song. The producer also works with the recording engineer (and the gear) so that technology helps and doesn't hurt the players as they capture their performances with the highest fidelity possible.

To do this, the producer helps the musicians communicate and connect with each other and with the environment. For instance, if the keyboard player and drummer are not communicating because one talks music theory and the other speaks in rhythms, the producer translates their words and helps them hear each other's perspective.

In a similar way, the producer may help the creative people communicate a need or want to a technical person like the recording engineer. If the engineer is a player, this may be easy. If the engineer is a knob-turning technologist, the producer may have to advocate on behalf of the musicians to ensure the players and the song are served by the technology instead of becoming servants to it.

Other part of the producer's day may include working with the investors in the project, some of whom are classic, big-business types. Although this may not be the fun and creative part of the job, it is essential to completing the project. The investors, like any investors, want to see progress. If they are locked out of the process, things tend to get worse instead of better. The art of creating a whole product involves learning to speak the language of each audience, whether they speak in the language of music, business, or marketing. The producers who fail to do this often fail to produce something of value.

Software Development Coaches as Producers
My initial move to creating software landed me in a successful, small company. Our company worked a great deal like an agile team. Our process was a blend of a written and oral tradition. We had short, informal meetings, we were outcome driven, and we pair programmed even though we just called it "working together."

Happy in my creative software world, I was unaware of the many evolutions of processes being form fitted on the software project. As I moved to larger companies, I was asked to follow various processes that only seemed to frustrate people while simultaneously failing to produce much of anything.

In an act of self-preservation, I turned toward the emerging agile processes. They seemed to provide the amount of structure I was used to from my first software experiences. The more I practiced agility, the more I realized that the experience was a great deal like working in the recording studio.

The Process of Producing Software
I am not sure how or when I became a coach. I think it happened more descriptively than prescriptively. In any case, once I had coached for a few years, I stopped to reflect on my experiences. I was looking

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