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Re: [XP] My boss wants advice.

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  • Ron Jeffries
    ... As I read what follows, it appears to me that Ed does not HAVE Agile, and that makes me think that it is fruitless to sell it. I don t mean to insult ...
    Message 1 of 63 , Feb 1, 2006
      On Wednesday, February 1, 2006, at 2:29:01 PM, Jim Hughes wrote:

      > Actually, he's my grandboss. I'll call him "Ed". Ed asked me today if I
      > had ideas on how sell Agile to his bosses.

      As I read what follows, it appears to me that Ed does not HAVE
      Agile, and that makes me think that it is fruitless to sell it.

      I don't mean to insult ... I'm just reporting that in what has been
      said here so far, it sounds like Ed and his folks may /believe/ in
      Agile but they aren't really /doing/ it. I could certainly be wrong,
      having not visited and watched.

      I am also reminded of Jim Highsmith's quote, one of my favorite

      Questioner: How do I sell my executive team on doing this stuff?
      Jim Highsmith: Don't. Just do it. They don't know what you're doing anyway.

      > Most of Ed's groups use Agile practices internally to one degree or another.
      > Ed's problem is that the external forces on the groups can't or won't change
      > the way they think about software development. A typical exchange might go
      > like this: Bob, Ed's boss, says, "How long is important new feature X going
      > to take? How many new people will you need?" Ed replies, "We can't yet
      > say. We've only got three sentences about the feature from Todd. Until we
      > get it fleshed out we can't give any meaningful estimate. After we've got a
      > bit of definition, I can give you a rough idea, and then as we proceed
      > through a few iterations, we can improve the estimate." Bob says, "Yeah,
      > okay. So, how long will it take? We need to know what to tell customers
      > and marketing."
      > Eventually Ed makes up a date.

      Um, how can I put this delicately ... "WRONG". I might agree with
      another poster's notion of saying "when do you want it", and then
      delivering the best possible stuff on that date. I would think, that
      since Ed's shop is supposedly Agile, that his burndown charts and
      similar communications would already be keeping the executives fully
      apprised of what is going to happen and that any time they change
      priorities he could immediately produce a new plan.

      Yet it seems he's not doing that ...

      > Bob overrides the date, substituting an
      > earlier one. Ed's coders and analysts work like hell to make the date,
      > usually producing hellish code with hellish bugs. We ship something we call
      > Feature X, and live with the maintenance of the hellish code, making Feature
      > Y that much harder to develop.

      "WHY THE XXXX WOULD YOU DO THAT????", he inquired gently.

      You'll get more done, better, if you don't work like hell, and if
      you produce clean, well-tested code.

      > My problem used to be selling Agile to Ed's predecessors. When Ed took
      > over, and embraced Agile, I thought I was done. Surely at Ed's exalted
      > position he could run his projects the way he wants.
      > Guess not. Now Ed has asked me how to sell Agile to his bosses. Many of
      > them come from sales and marketing, a few from software development (long
      > ago).

      Well, if I were sitting down with Ed, I'd be asking to see his
      release plans and burn charts, and might also ask about all the
      clean fully tested code these Agile teams are producing. If some of
      those things weren't forthcoming, I'd be recommending getting the
      house in order so that there will be something to sell.
      > Any advice is welcome. Pointers to books, articles, blog entries, etc.
      > would be great.

      This one comes to mind.


      We'll Try
      Ron Jeffries

      Of all the words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these... it might have been.
      --John Greenleaf Whittier

      Do, or do not. There is no try.

      "We'll try." These are the saddest words a programmer has ever
      spoken, and most of us have spoken them more than once. These
      words are often the preface to months of grueling effort against a
      deadline we know in our heart we cannot make. At the end, we come
      up tired, burnt out, beaten, and short. Management hates us, we
      hate ourselves, our families don't know us any more or have fallen
      by the wayside. The software, if it works at all, is nothing to be
      proud of.

      Ron Jeffries
      Thousands of years ago, the first man discovered how to make fire.
      He was probably burned at the stake he had taught his brothers to
      light - Howard Roark (The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand)
    • yahoogroups@jhrothjr.com
      From: Dave Churchville To: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
      Message 63 of 63 , Feb 22, 2006
        From: "Dave Churchville" <dchurchv.at.yahoo.com@...>
        To: "extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com"
        Sent: Wednesday, February 22, 2006 5:42 PM
        Subject: Fwd: Re: [XP] My boss wants advice.

        > --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, Ron Jeffries
        > <ronjeffries@...> wrote:
        >> If the scope changes, the date changes. The best way to make the
        >> date is to change the scope to get the date you want. The best way
        >> to change the scope is to eliminate details from all critical
        >> stories, but not to eliminate their essence. Often that will get all
        >> the necessary functionality into the system, though not the specific
        >> stories originally contemplated.
        > This strategy has worked very well for me on my projects. Instead of
        > cutting scope by cutting entire stories, often I've been able to cut
        > just a specific implementation of that story, and opt for a less
        > robust, but satisfactory one.
        > About 80% of the time, the more robust version is never asked for
        > again because the "good enough" flavor is, well, good enough.
        > Classic example from my not so distant past:
        > Customer (sales VP): "We need to integrate our reporting system with
        > Customer XYZ's internal system. Can you estimate how long that would
        > take?"
        > Me: "Really? What are they trying to do with our information?
        > Customer: "Well, I'm not sure, but they say they need all our reports
        > electronically to import into their billing system. We send them
        > FAXes today, and they don't want to deal with that."
        > Me: "What if they could just download reports as PDF documents from
        > the Web application, and use those however they want?"
        > Customer: "Um. Oh. I guess that would work. Well, how long will that
        > take to implement?"
        > Me: "It's already in the current version."
        > Estimated savings: $250K.

        Did anyone walk the value path with the customer on this one? My suspicion
        is that either they set up a parallel system to archive the PDF's
        and that their customer service people (or whoever) are taking
        extra time to access it (extra time compared to what they would
        have to take if it was on their main system), or they're hireing
        someone to input the data they need into their system from the PDF's.

        John Roth
        > --Dave
        > Dave Churchville
        > http://www.extremeplanner.com
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