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In this fanciful tale, software practitioners lose their self- belief to external forces in the latter part of the 20th century and regain it in the early 21st century, thanks to the BOP phenomenon. The forces arrayed against that self-belief were truly formidable. There were the vendors, heralding every new technique in the marketplace as a "breakthrough." There were the academic researchers: They declared breakthroughs as dramatic as those of the vendors in order to obtain grants for further research. There was the press, proclaiming in print the breakthroughs that had earlier been made by the vendors and the researchers. And, of course, there was management. When the much-ballyhooed benefits failed to materialize from all the so-called breakthroughs, the software managers concluded that their people--not the promises-- were faulty. Layoffs and massive outsourcing became the order of the day. Self-belief began to be restored as techniques such as postdelivery review and postimplementation audit gained favor and were implemented. Experience factories, such as the one conceived by the Software Engineering Laboratory, were founded. Lessons learned from software projects were captured, recorded, and saved for organizations to learn from and apply to future projects. Another idea that focused people's thinking on ways to improve software-building processes was the five-level Capability Maturity Model. This led to a process-improvement trend that surpassed the lessons-learned approach. From these two concepts came the idea that finally halted the erosion of software practitioners' self-belief: best of practice, or BOP for short. The author concludes the tale by describing what the impact of BOP was and how it carried practitioners into the 21st century.

R. L. Glass, "In the Year 2020—In Search of Self-Belief: The 'BOP' Phenomenon," in Computer, vol. 28, no. , pp. 55-57, 1995.
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