Wednesday, September 05, 2007

So it goes... R.I.P. Brian Lyons

One of the downsides of traveling so much is that Life (and Death) doesn't follow a convenient schedule. I missed a friend's brother's funeral the other week because I was out of town. And now, I am likely to miss the funeral for a former boss this weekend.

Brian Lyons, CEO, CTO and Co-Founder of Number Six Software was killed in a motorcycle accident on Monday. He was a great guy, terribly talented and prolific and had a family.

I worked at Number Six for about a year. While I had my ups and downs during my tenure there, I am still wholly positive about going there when I did. When I had the opportunity to do some consulting with them a few years later, I jumped at the opportunity.

Brian and Rob had come from Rational and were interested in building better software. Because of their heritage, they were big proponents of RUP. While we didn't always see eye-to-eye on topics like process, I respected their experience and expertise as did their large customer base. I also appreciated (and was probably influenced by more directly than I realize -- cf. Bosatsu Consulting, Inc. and Zepheira, LLC) their entrepreneurial spirit.

One of my favorite memories of Brian (besides lots of laughs over food and beer) was a demo he did that tied together the various Rational tools and used a Rose model as a hub for tracking things like code coverage, defect rates, tying failure back to requirements specification, etc. It was one of my early glimpses into the relationship between requirements, design, testing and development. It made me realize that software failure was an organizational failure. It was one of the experiences that led me to believe better process and design tools like AOP might help more closely track a design concept, its implementation and the requirements whence it came.

In addition to his being willing to try to contribute to improving our failed and broken industry, Brian had a joie de vivre that I think I resonated with. He was a CEO biker, but more biker than CEO. Ultimately, this love seems to have been his undoing. Please don't point fingers and lay blame. Risk management is a complicated subject that involves every decision you make; even then you can't control everything.

So, the lesson I learned from Brian was that life is worth living and that an individual can make a difference to this industry. Thanks for the lesson, Chief.


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