Friday, August 22, 2014

The agile kitchen project

A traditionalist asked me: can you build a new house, and deliver the kitchen with agile methods?

Hmmm, how about this plan?

You could break up a house delivery into major constituents that could be agile deliverables.

Of course, the first thing is to architect the narrative (vision), then apply reasonable rules of system engineering to ascertain where the best interfaces should be between modules. And then separate backlog by non-functional and functional, honoring common sense sequencing rules/constraints like walls before roof.

Only then should you apply an agile method to something like a kitchen. First, there would likely be storyboards rather than text stories on cards to illustrate the look and appeal of the kitchen... counter tops, cabinets, appliances, lighting, etc. Then, with look-and-feel and interfaces specified, you could have a cabinet team, counter top team, appliance team all go off and do their thing... In the physical domains, work segregation is common because of capital facility requirements. Take a look at any cabinet factory and you would get the idea.

The "user" or product manager could certainly weigh in during the kitchen development, changing some things like wall color. But if the cabinetry is to be changed, then the whole house backlog has to be in the trade space... give up a bathroom to get the cabinets changed, etc. Anyone who has built a custom home has gone through this trading process... .

So yes, you could deliver the kitchen while the rest of the house is still less developed, given that all system and interface constraints are observed: power, water, etc. foundation backlog in place.

Now, could the user actually use the kitchen: No, permitting requires certificate of occupancy, and that requires a good deal more of the house to be delivered.

But, the kitchen is DONE, if it not operational for actual cooking

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