Fixing the Agile Engineering Problem

A lot of people are talking, recently, about the fact that organizations that adopt Agile practices don’t always achieve the results they desire.  See Martin Fowler’s Flaccid Scrum, Ron Jeffries’ Context, My Foot!, and Jim Shore’s The Decline and Fall of Agile for examples.

In my experience, most organizations have much room to improve both their project management and their technical engineering practice.  Those that start with Scrum seem to improve their project management practice enough that the deficiencies in their technical engineering practice become more painfully obvious.

The answer is simple and obvious–improve the technical engineering practice.  The way to do that is not so easy, however. (Continued)

Agility and Predictability

I was reading the latest post on Johanna Rothman’s Managing Product Development blog.  In it she says,

Serial lifecycles provide a (false) prediction. And, boy oh boy, is that prediction comforting to your senior managers. “When will the project be done?” might be their most-asked question. Of course, a serial lifecycle provides a prediction that’s almost guaranteed to be wrong, especially if you use a project scheduling tool. The tool provides you a single-point estimate, which is the first date you can’t guarantee the project won’t be done by–the first possible, optimistic date.

I like that characterization of the predicted date.  Another characterization, usually true of serial lifeycles, is that the predicted delivery date is the first day of schedule slip.  I’ve seen many serial projects get almost to that date before they first admit that they’re in trouble. (Continued)