My Research: Just How do People Manage the Process of Software Development?

As hard as it may be to believe, the University of British Columbia (UBC) actually awarded me a PhD in engineering for research where my conclusion was “people need to be on the same page to get the job done” …. Well duh.  Ok so what was PhD worthy about this research? First it was an application of grounded theory to engineering research. Grounded theory is used extensively in Nursing to understand patient care. Unlike most research methodologies, grounded theory generates a substantive theory that explains the subject’s lived experience.  This is quite different from other research approaches that start with a hypothesis and then design an experiment to support or reject the hypothesis. While the hypothesis may be of interest to the researcher, it may lack relevance to the participants. Grounded theory builds a theory that is relevant to the participants. In some ways this is the academic equivalent of a gemba walk.

While it may be somewhat obvious that people need to be on the same page to collaboratively get a job done, what Reconciling Perspectives offers is a substantive explanation of the process of how people detect and resolve their mismatched perspectives. More importantly it also explains how the process can fail and gives us a direction for social software development process improvement.

Journal Papers

Reconciling Perspectives: A Grounded Theory of How People Manage the Process of Software Development

Using Grounded Theory to Study the Experience of Software Development


An amateur video of me trying to explain Reconciling Perspectives re-using the deck I presented during my defense. And no I did not wear the shirt at my defense.