Beware of the Combine!


In my past life I had a manager who had (still has) a penchant for the metaphor. I’ll probably write about a few of them in this blog, but my all-time favorite metaphor, and one that I use myself now, is the one about the Combine.

This manager liked to view the product development process as something akin to the farmer’s life. Maybe that’s because he comes from St. Louis. I’m not really sure if he had a rural upbringing or not, but he does have a certain straight-forwardness to his personality that is stereotypically associated with farmers. In any case, one of his favorite things to say to me was, “You’re getting run over by the Combine.” This was because we had developers ready to go (in fact, were coding) despite the lack of requirements from me, because I was too busy to get all of the requirements for every developer done. In my manager’s view, the product manager was the farmer, who had to figure out what to plant to make the most money and plant it in time to grow before the Combine came along and harvested it.

I’ve always liked this metaphor for what I do. I think it deserves a t-shirt of its own.


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