External Halo Effect

, Jun 19, 2006

James Robertson:

One thing I noticed during my time as a consultant is the “external halo effect” - it was frequently the case that internal developers at a shop I’d visit would know what was wrong, and how to fix it - but none of the management or architects/IT standards types would listen to them. In I’d come, with far less expertise on the problem at hand, but with the “external vendor expert” stamp. The amazing this was, I’d say the same thing that the internal guys did, and get listened to!

I’ve spoken to plenty of other people who are (or have been) in similar situations, and they report the same thing. So what advice would I give McGovern (et. al.)? Pay a lot more attention to your development staff. Stop listening to industry analysts as a first and only source of wisdom (which is not to say they don’t have any - it’s to say that you may well find the same thing for free in your own shop).

I’ve noticed this very often myself. In one project I consulted with, this was taken to an extreme — the company brought in to do a review (not mine, BTW) basically interviewed all of the developers, got their criticism and recommendations, made a review report out of that, and as a result took over the project …