Agile, Traditional, Lean, Burndown Charts, Kanban Boards, Earned Value Management Metrics, Code Coverage, Static Code Analysis, Coaches, Consultants, Daily Standup Meetings, Weekly Sit Down Meetings, Periodic Program/Project Reviews. All the shit managers obsess over doesn’t matter. It’s all about that Jell, ’bout that jell, ’bout that jell.
First, we have VCID:
In VCID mode, we iteratively define, at a coarse level of granularity, what the Domain-Specific Architecture (DSA) is and what the revenue-generating portfolio of Apps that we’ll be developing are.
Next up, we have ACID:
In ACID mode, we’ll iteratively define, at at finer level of detail, what each of our Apps will do for our customers and the components that will comprise each App.
Then, we have SCID, where we iteratively cut real App & DSA code and implement per-App stories/use cases/functions:
But STOP! Unlike the previous paragraphs imply, the “CID”s shouldn’t be managed as a sequential, three step, waterfall execution from the abstract world of concepts to the real world of concrete code. If so, your work is perhaps doomed. The CIDs should inform each other. When work in one CID exposes an error(s) in another CID, a transition into the flawed CID state should be executed to repair the error(s).
Managed correctly, your product development system becomes a dynamically executing, inter-coupled, set of operating states with error-correcting feedback loops that steer the system toward its goal of providing value to your customers and profits to your coffers.
I recently posted a tidbit on Twitter which I thought was benignly unassailable:
Of course, Twitter being Twitter, I was wrong – and that’s one of the reasons why I love (and hate) Twitter. When your head gets too inflated, Twitter can deflate it as fast as a pin pops a balloon.
In recounting his obsession with quality, I recall an interview where Steve Jobs was telling a reporter about painting a fence with his father when he was a young boy. There was a small section in a corner of the yard, behind a shed and fronted by bushes, that was difficult to lay a brush on. Steve asked his dad: “Do I really have to paint that section? Nobody will know that it’s not painted.” His father simply said: “Yes, but you will know.”
It is pretty much a de-facto standard in the C++ (and Java) world that enum type names start with a capital letter and that enumeration values are all capitalized, with underscores placed between multi-word names:
Now, assume you stumble across some sloppy work like this in code that must be formally shared between two different companies:
Irked by the obvious sloppiness, and remembering the Steve Jobs story, you submit the following change request to the formal configuration control board in charge of ensuring consistency, integrity, and quality of all the inter-company interfaces:
What would you do if your request was met with utter silence – no acknowledgement whatsoever? Pursue it further, or call it quits? Is silence on a small issue like this an indicator of a stinky cultural smell in the air, or is the ROI to effect the change simply not worth it? If the ROI to make the change is indeed negative, could that be an indicator of something awry with the change management process itself?
How hard, and how often, do you poke the beast until you choose to call it quits and move on? Seriously, you surely do poke the beast at least once in a while… err, don’t you?
You may not believe this, but overall, I like “agile” management and coding practices- where they fit. The most glaring shortcoming that I, and perhaps only I, perceive in the “agile” body of knowledge concerns the dearth of guidance for handling both the social and technical dependencies present in every software development endeavor. The larger the project (or whatever you #noprojects community members want to call it), the more tangled the inter-dependencies. There are, simultaneously: social couplings, technical couplings, and the nastiest type of coupling of all: socio-technical couplings.
The best analogy I can think of to express my thoughts on the agile dependencies black hole is the linear vs multiplicative complexity conundrum as expressed so elegantly by Bertrand Meyer in his book, “Agile!“. But instead of the family friendly linguini and lasagna images Mr. Meyer employs in his book, I, of course, choose to use imagery more in line with the blasphemous theme of this blog:
The complexity of the system is at least equal to the product of the problem and solution complexities. At worst, there are exponents associated with one or both multiplicands.
I’ve been waiting patiently (freakin’ impatiently?) for 10+ years for some word, any word, to dethrone “agile” as the most frequently seen word on book, video, and article titles in the software industry. Thanks to the highly esteemed Gartner consulting firm, perhaps we have a viable candidate:
“Bimodal IT refers to having two modes of IT, each designed to develop and deliver information- and technology-intensive services in its own way. Mode 1 is traditional, emphasizing scalability, efficiency, safety and accuracy. Mode 2 is non-sequential, emphasizing agility and speed.” – Gartner IT Glossary
Personally, I like the word “Tradagile” better than “Bimodal“. It’s lighter, less stuffy.
I’m goin’ Bimodal! W00t!