Welcome to Datatown, a not-so-friendly community

IT pilot fish is called in to a project meeting with four other analysts -- and it's clear right away that this isn't going well.

"The project was to make an application similar to one that had been supported by one of the team members for 16 years," says fish. "Barney, the programmer in the group, was making an impassioned argument that the database design needed to be normalized like all other databases are.

"But Betty, the person supporting the system, was against doing that. She made a very good argument for keeping it the same, based on reporting needs and the way the system worked."

After both team members make their cases, the others turn to fish and ask, "What should we do?"

Fish takes a step back. Look, I'm not on this project, so I don't think I should be making this decision, he says. The response: "Yeah, but you know database design too, and you've been here 20 years, so we thought you should decide."

OK, fish says, since Betty has supported the old system for 16 years and will support the new one, perhaps she's seeing things that Barney isn't, so we should stick with her design.

At that, Barney resumes his very vocal insistence that every database needs to be normalized for efficiency, and this one is no different.

Wait wait wait, fish says. Look, imagine you're traveling in a foreign country and come to a rough town. And suppose Barney pops up and says, "Hey, I know the country, I know the language, and I can get you through in an efficient manner even though I have never been here because this town is like all other towns."

Then, fish continues, say Betty pops up and says, "Hey, I can get you through also -- I know the language and I have lived in this town for 16 years and will keep living here once you pass through." Who would you choose?

Reports fish, "They all laughed and agreed to not change the design."

Sharky's your guide through the land of true tales of IT life. So send your stories to me at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll score a sharp Shark shirt every time I use one. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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