Sunday, June 13, 2010

Balancing Agility and Discipline

Barry Boehm and Richard Turner wrote an interesting book a few years ago, entitled "Balancing Agility and Discipline: A guide for the perplexed". 

Boehm, of course, is the author of an early, agile risk management strategy and practice called the Spiral Method.  The neat thing about the spiral is that it is like the wind-up of a discus thrower: it can be used as the launching method to a methodology, like one of the agile methods. 

So, it is fitting that Boehm and Turner would write a book on agile--though no one would mistake Boehm for an agilist--since the spiral and any of the agile methods actually fit together.

Boehm and Turner's theme in the book is that discipline works in any methodology, and is essential to predictable performance.  Agile is no exception.  In an interesting twist, there are three endorsements for the book in the form of forwards: Grady Booch, the guru of object oriented practices and a proponent of methods that are arguable not too agile, says he understand's Boehm's point; Alistair Cockburn, author of perhaps the least disciplined of the agile methods is on board also; and Authur Pyster, the CIO at the FAA at the time, certainly no source for agile methods, says FAA is trying to be agile where they can, even though they have truly mission critical software.

For me, the interesting part of the book is the appendices.  Check out appendix E which is metric comparison of performance expectations.

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