Saturday, April 17, 2010

Words of Wisdom -- Methodology

Here are a few words of wisdom we might all think about from time to time:

"Problem 1: The people on the projects were not interested in learning our system.
Problem 2: They were successfully able to ignore us, and were still delivering software anyway!"

Alistair Cockburn, noted Agile thought leader.

I've got a few more ditties in my book: "Project Management the Agile Way: Making it Work in the Enterprise", published in January 2010.


  1. What's interesting with Alistair's approach (and I know him personally) is that the range of projects these ideas are applicable to are not stated.

    Imagine a moderate to large ERP rollout. Say SAP for a few dozen to a 100 sites around the world. "Ignoring the system and delivering software anyway?"

    Or maybe the development of an autonomous flying machine by an Integrated Product Team (IPT) in a few places around the country and then rolling the first units to the field in Southwest Asia (that's the new marketing word for Iraq).

    "We don't really want to follow your system, we can figure this out ourselves."

    The statistics show that the majority of software developed in this nation (cost and people working) is for products and projects that are enterprise class, large complex and mission critical.

    The domain the agilest live in is in that distribution of 5 to 10 developers. The numbers of projects are large, the cost of those projects moderate to low. It's the sweet spot of having the luxury to not have a deadline, not have lives on the line and not have Billions of $'s at risk if you fail to meet the specifications.

    Good work if you can get it.

  2. Glen: One of the reasons I like Cockburn's attitude toward agile is that he is a realist when it comes to scale and scope, unusual in a committed agilist. At least with Crystal Clear and Orange he himself knows that small team tactics require both art and science to scale to enterprise scope.

    Perhaps the best reference I've read that backs up the statistics that most software is developed in larger scale programs with matching methodologies is Boehm and Turner's book "Balancing Agility and Discipline". Check out Appendix E for metrics. Note that Cockburn wrote a forward to Boehm's book!


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