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The Wevo Approach

The figure below shows an example of a one-size-fits-all, waterfall schedule template that’s prevalent at many old school software companies. It sure looks nice, squeaky clean, and controllable, but as everyone knows, it’s always wrong. Out of fear or apathy, almost no one speaks out against this “best practice“, but those who do are quickly slapped down by the anointed controllers and meta-controllers of the project.

A more insidious, micro-grained, version of this waterboarding fiasco is shown below. It’s a self-medicating attempt to amplify the illusion of control that’s envisioned to take place throughout the execution of the project. Since schedules are concocted before an architecture or design has been reasonably sketched out and no one can possibly know up front what all the micro tasks are, let alone how long they’ll take (unless the project is to dig ditches), it’s monstrously wrong too. But shush, don’t say a word.

Once a monstrosity like this is baked into a huge Microsoft Project file or company proprietary scheduling document, those who conjured up the camouflage auto-become loathe to modify it, even as the situation dynamically changes during the death march. Once the project starts churning, new unforeseen “popup” tasks emerge and some pre-planned micro-tasks become obsolete. These events disconnect the schedule from reality quicker than you can say “WTF?“.

Moving on to a sunnier disposition, the template below shows a more “sane“, but not infallible, method of scheduling. It’s a model of the incremental “evo” strategy that I first stumbled upon from Tom Gilb – a bazillion years before the agile movement rose to prominence. In the evo(lutionary) approach, stable working software becomes visible early with each RDCT cycle and it grows and matures as the messy (it’s always messy) project lurches forward.

The figure below shows a tweaked version of the evo model. It’s a hybrid concoction of the waterboard and evolutionary development approaches – the “wevo“. Some upfront requirements and architecture exploration/definition/specification is performed by the elected team technical leaders before staffing up for the battle against the possibility of building a BBoM. The purpose of the upfront requirements and architecture efforts are to address major cross-cutting concerns and establish contextual boundaries – before letting the dogs loose.

Of course, the wevo approach is not enough. Another necessary but insufficient requirement is that the team leaders dive into the muck with the “coders” after the cross-cutting requirements and architecture definition activities have produced a stable, understandable blueprint. No jargon spewing software “rocketects” or “pure” software project leads allowed – everyone gets dirty – and for the duration.

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