We all know that more is always better except when it is not.  The challenge of quality and quantity is a common anti-pattern for software development.  We take a look at it in this episode about the warm bodies approach.

Defining the Warm Bodies Anti-Pattern

There are several definitions of this anti-pattern.  In this episode, we use the Daxx site definition to drive our discussion. [Click Here to See The Page]

“This antipattern seems, at first, to have more to do with the structure of your company than the structure of your software. That being said, problems with the former can have unfortunate consequences for the latter. “Warm bodies” are people who work for your company, but aren’t deeply invested in its success.

This anti-pattern is one that we all run into in our career.  It is almost unavoidable.  Larger teams are also going to increase the odds of it happening.  While this can be a concern, it seems unrealistic to expect that every team member is a “true believer” in the project.  The most likely solution is to keep your team small.  However, that is not going to guarantee you avoid the warm bodies situation.

A Leadership Issue

Building a team that does not suffer from warm bodies starts with hiring.  However, the leadership of the group is essential to maintaining this over time.  The worst case is when a dedicated team loses its drive and focus.  This is not a place to cover effective management skills, but we can look at a few warning signs of a team adrift. 

When meetings are being skipped or cut short, there might be a problem.  These actions can come from a team that is focusing on implementation, but more often, it comes from “having something better to do.”  While this is understandable at times when it becomes a typical response, then dedication should be addressed.  Set clear priorities and have a mechanism for accountability to make it apparent when things are going off the rails.

Garbage In – Garbage Out

Now let’s back up to the building of the team stage.  When you are growing your team, there should be questions related to focus and match.  Start with an idea of the ideal team member and then screen for those attributes.  Look for a desire to solve the core problem and a solid work ethic.  These traits will help you build a team that can survive the challenges ahead.

Rob Broadhead

Rob is a founder of, and frequent contributor to, Develpreneur. This includes the Building Better Developers podcast. He is also a lifetime learner as a developer, designer, and manager of software solutions. Rob is the founder of RB Consulting and has managed to author a book about his family experiences and a few about becoming a better developer. In his free time, he stays busy raising five children (although they have grown into adults). When he has a chance to breathe, he is on the ice playing hockey to relax or working on his ballroom dance skills.

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