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By How Much?

Thanks to a social media friend, I was directed to an agile transformation case study written by a management consultant and posted on the consultancy’s site along side several other huge success stories. At the end of the long writeup, the following outcomes were asserted:

Xform Outcomes

When I see fancy, professionally-crafted, “qualitative” success lists like these, knowing that they are touted by highly subjective people whose livelihoods require the projection of infallibility, my BS detector starts beeping. For this specific list, these questions come to mind:

  • Feature time-to-market has been reduced“: by how much?
  • Ability to release frequently has been increased“: by how much?
  • Technical debt has been reduced“: by how much?
  • Reactivity to portfolio prioritization is much improved“: by how much?
  • “WIP has been reduced”: by how much?
  • Morale is strongly improved within and between teams“: by how much?
  • Trust between sites is improved“: by how much?
  • The dispersion of development over many sites has been reduced“: by how much?
  • Global product and technical leadership is visible“: by how much?
  • How much did this 18 month transformation cost the client? How much money did you make?
  • How much have client revenues increased and costs decreased as a result of your effort?

Of course, no quantitative percentages were given because no pre-transformation benchmarking was performed. If benchmarking was indeed performed, there would’ve been a chance that the before-and-after metrics may have driven the client to conclude that the whole effort was a huge waste of time and money.

huge success

It’s funny how managers who love to hold others accountable for adhering to micro-defined, quantitatively specified, burndown charts, not only get to evaluate themselves, but they get to do so qualitatively, with no supporting data.

In God we trust; all others must bring data. – W. E. Deming

In Consultants we trust; all others must bring data. – BD00

  1. June 27, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    It’s all boils down to information theory. The more you know the less certain you are. I’m at the point in my understanding of fluff that it seems to be a better more positive motivator than cold hard depressing slipped delivery dates from outer space.

    • June 28, 2015 at 4:05 am

      “Delivery dates from outer space.” LOL. Ain’t that the truth.

      I had a manager once tell me “This delivery date has a reason for being what it is”. Of course, she didn’t say what that reason was; because she didn’t know what it was.

  2. June 28, 2015 at 4:32 am

    … another question: which of the good things that happened “before” are not happening anymore “after”?

    • June 28, 2015 at 4:38 am

      Brilliant! I wish I’d said that Florin. In the mind of the consultant, he/she excises all of the bad while leaving all of the good intact; as if it’s a black and white affair and the good and bad are orthogonal to each other.

  3. June 29, 2015 at 10:03 am

    Not sure how much you can quantify the morale improvement, though I can understand it as an anecdote. Being forced into directions you know technically have little probability of success for seemingly arbitrary reasons such as an executive saying “I command it thus” is not great for moral. If this is truly and agile exercise, I could envision some improvement there.

    • June 29, 2015 at 11:52 am

      I agree. There could have been improvement – maybe even a lot of improvement. Or maybe not 🙂 According to the writer, and the writer alone, it was a slam dunk.

      I’d love to have unfettered access to the affected people to get their take on the change. And I don’t mean the boss who hired the consultant (because he’s going to echo what the consultant says since he won’t want to admit to throwing money down the toilet to his meta-boss). I mean the people under the boss; at ground zero.

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