My last post was a list of the unlikely events that nearly did happen in August 1914, and how a major European war was actually one of the more unlikely possibilities.
Thinking about it afterwards, some of the projects I’ve been involved in have been pretty unlikely as well, although fortunately not quite so publically.
I’m thinking of the new account opening system for a major bank. Naive outsiders might think that would be just a matter of creating a few records in a database, but it wasn’t. Their last project had been an expensive mess, so they decided to get some experts in, with experience in a proper methodology. We spent six months drawing diagrams of information flows to produce a proposal several inches thick, which I had the job of taking round to various overstretched managers and asking them for a response by next Wednesday.
Meanwhile, one of the the same department managers got fed up waiting for the new super-system, so he dug out his home computer (this was before the days of PCs and Windows) and wrote his own account opening system one weekend.
I saw it. It was written in Basic. The code was in breach of all guidelines for good programming, but it did have two advantages over the official project. It worked, and it was available now.
Last I heard the Bank were using it as a temporary measure until the new system was completed, which was estimated to be at least another six months, and goodness knows how many man-years. But I’d decided I’d had enough, and got out.