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Re: [XP] Feasability was Agile Criteria

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  • Ron Jeffries
    Hello, Steven. On Saturday, February 2, 2008, at 8:34:50 AM, you ... It still seems to me to be nigh on to meaningless to try to say that agile succeeded or
    Message 1 of 44 , Feb 2, 2008
      Hello, Steven. On Saturday, February 2, 2008, at 8:34:50 AM, you

      > Nevertheless, we cannot say that even under this risk-accepting
      > approach, agile can never fail. With inadequate skills, leadership,
      > market understanding, communication, etc., an agile project that
      > should have succeeded can still fail, Agile is not a silver bullet.

      It still seems to me to be nigh on to meaningless to try to say that
      "agile succeeded" or "agile failed". Issues with the phrase:

      -- As discussion here has shown, the notion of success vs failure
      is largely a matter of perspective. "The operation was a success
      but the patient died."

      -- A process might be inadequate or ineffective or inefficient
      if applied as written, but the process does not act, does not
      have motivation, and therefore cannot be said to succeed or
      fail. It might be said to be risky, or failure-prone, or only
      useful in certain circumstances.

      -- It is nearly impossible to determine whether any given process
      was really used on a project, much less how well it was

      Seems to me the success/failure notion is far too ill-defined, and
      far too binary, to be useful.

      Ron Jeffries
      Any errors you find in this are the work of Secret Villains,
      whose mad schemes will soon be revealed. -- Wil McCarthy
    • Matt Swaffer
      Jeff, Certainly learning early on that a project isn t going to succeed is a good thing. I didn t mean to qualify success as good or failure as bad. I meant
      Message 44 of 44 , Feb 4, 2008

        Certainly learning early on that a project isn't going to succeed is a good
        thing. I didn't mean to qualify success as good or failure as bad. I meant
        to point out that the argument that "early failure == success" seems a bit
        odd to me.

        As for the "won" vs. "lost" dichotomy. do you feel the same way about the
        "success" vs. "failure" dichotomy? I for one am not a big fan of the
        current fad where we don't keep score at kid's soccer games because we don't
        want anyone to have to lose. I understand your point about rational
        decision making dealing with an ROI continuum rather than a red light /
        green light process, however ultimately the goal is success (however you
        might define that success!) It seems that lacking a clearly defined goal is
        more likely to lead to irrational decisions than defining a goal that
        includes "success". Certainly tools like weighted average cost of capital
        and projected ROI's, break-even points etc. are good for healthy decision
        making, but so is defining what success is for you before you get started.


        From: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
        [mailto:extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Jeff Grigg
        Sent: Saturday, February 02, 2008 5:58 AM
        To: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [XP] Re: Win vs Lose Mentality - Agile Criteria - Capers Jones

        --- "Matt Swaffer" <maswaffer@...> wrote:
        > Does "less costly failure" == "success"? Everyone knows
        > it's better to get out early than late [...]. "Early
        > failure" might be preferable to "Late failure" but like
        > [...] Being the best loser doesn't make you the winner.
        > I guess to be very cynical, if all Agile has to offer
        > me is 2nd place. I've been had.

        Yes, exactly: Aborting a doomed project as quickly as possible is a
        good thing. That doesn't make the project a success; all it does is
        save the company millions of dollars. But, generally speaking,
        saving millions of dollars, rather than wasting millions of dollars,
        would be considered a good thing, in most cases.

        How could this rationally be considered a success? Well, aside from
        the psychological and Corporate POLITICAL issues, the management
        decision to kill a doomed project, rather than lose millions of
        dollars in a futile attempt to "save" it is a good, rational and
        SUCCESSful act of good management. If you can discover, sooner
        rather than later, that the business justification for a project is
        inadequate, and that no one will really want to deploy or use
        the "solution" you're developing, then SUCCESSfully eliminating the
        waste is a mark of successful management. (Successful technical
        software development, in that case, would still result in a failed
        business project -- for business, rather than technical reasons.)

        Taking off /my/ cynical hat (maybe ;-) and (claiming) to don a more
        rational hat, I may see that an excessive focus on "success vs
        failure" and "win first place vs being a loser" leads to many kinds
        of irrational decision making habits. But instead of delving into
        the sordid details of how that can happen, I'll just propose that it
        will generally be more healthy to focus on the costs and benefits,
        and hence the Return On Investment (ROI) of proposed actions --
        rather than some simplistic "I won" vs "I lost" dichotomy.

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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