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Re: Agile Rentschian Thinking

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  • Laurent Bossavit
    ... Ah, I would agree that fragile applies to agile projets in that sense too - they have a large but limited tolerance for fertilizer, known in our milieu
    Message 1 of 48 , Jul 11, 2002
      > but it is also fragile (the general rise in temperature in the world's
      > oceans is killing off many reefs; many reefs simply cannot adapt to the
      > influx of nitrogen arising from fertilizer run off and are bleaching).

      Ah, I would agree that "fragile" applies to agile projets in that
      sense too - they have a large but limited tolerance for fertilizer,
      known in our milieu as "bullshit". ;)

      > This is one of Hawking's common messages: why are the laws of the
      > universe what they are? The fact is, they are, and if they weren't, we
      > wouldn't be around to even discuss the issue.

      Read Lee Smolin's Life of the Cosmos for an interesting answer to
      that question. Almost plausible, too - at least no worse than Penrose
      on the mystery of mind.

      > [egb> ] Delivering a <product> is much more than delivering a pile of
      > executable code.

      Indeed. Sadly, in some circumstances, quite a lot of fertilizer seems
      to be involved. ;)

      > [egb> ] That's cool. A couple of months ago, I got called in to save an XP
      > project.

      I'd love to hear about that one. A lot more than I'd like to hear
      about RUP projects - I don't have the proper memeware installed to
      minister to those or evaluate them from written reports. A project
      claiming to be XP, I'm fairly sure I could save - using XP. If they
      were really wanting to do XP.

      I haven't run a RUP project but a colleague of mine ran one. It was
      the only successful project in that company previous to my SoloXP
      project. It shared with it the features of having been a small
      (microteam) effort with little harmful management interference and
      actual confidence in the process on the part of the techies involved,
      and a real breathing customer.

      I suspect that some of these ancillary conditions are more critical
      to project success than a lot of what either RUP or XP recommend. But
      I also suspect that XP has gone farther than RUP in shedding the
      unnecessary baggage - i.e. everything *not* critical to project
      success - and taking on board the necessary baggage.

      > [egb> ] ok, I'll cast your extra baggage with multi-billion dollar budget
      > comments into the sea of forgetfulness.

      Maybe that was just a tactful way of not asking what Rational's
      marketing budget actually *is*. Is it larger or smaller than
      ObjectMentor's, do you think ?

      > [egb> ] It's not clear to me what you base your cost calculations on, so I
      > cannot comment. However, your metrics are useful, given that I encounter
      > lots of projects that have less then 90 day delivery schedules coupled with
      > fluid team membership, such that waiting 4-6 weeks for things to jell is
      > generally not an option that's available to them...

      "Fluid team membership" suggests management deathwish to me. Less
      than 90 calendar days delivery schedules (if they are whole-project
      schedules) sound like "magic wand" projects to me (i.e. for things
      that small you'll use just one person, and non-small things need to
      take longer). How you manage such projects so that they actually
      deliver successfully is of some interest to me - if only to point out
      gaps in my experience, or divergences in the meaning we give to


      Any given program, when running, is obsolete.
    • Laurent Bossavit
      ... Controlled by whom ? Aye, there s the rub. ... Agreed. Here and now, given our skill and knowledge, it would be stupid. Do remember, though, that fairly
      Message 48 of 48 , Jul 25, 2002
        > As such, any meaningful method has to "embrace change" but perhaps
        > where we differ is that I would add "and do so in a controlled manner."

        Controlled by whom ? Aye, there's the rub.

        > if you are building a high rise, it would be infinitely stupid to start
        > with a pile of lumber and some hand tools and expect to be successful.

        Agreed. Here and now, given our skill and knowledge, it would be
        stupid. Do remember, though, that fairly simple biological organisms
        routinely build, with their bare appendages, constructions which are
        to them as a highrise is to us. Termites. Wasps.

        Conclusion : it is not stupid to expect that we might *develop* the
        knowledge and skill to build a highrise starting with a pile of
        lumber and some hand tools.

        Now. Metaphor is nice, but we are not, in fact, building highrises.
        We are building software, a different kind of thing. What transposes
        there from the metaphor, and what doesn't ?

        > To be clear as well, I have problems with the pseudoscientific sound
        > bites in your statement: "embracing change" strikes me too much like
        > the pop business edits of the 80's and 90's. I mean, what's the
        > alternative? "I'm a Luddite."

        I don't see where you get that. Could be a language problem - as a
        freakin' furriner I always double-check this kind of thing.

        Dictionary.com says : "embrace, to take up willingly or eagerly", or
        more interestingly, "to avail oneself of". Thus the alternatives are:
        "to accept change reluctantly", or even "not to avail oneself of the
        possibilities offered by change". Which is where you're leading with
        your "embrace change in a controlled manner".

        Dictionary.com says Luddite is "One who opposes technical or
        technological change". I think one could legitimately oppose some
        kinds of technical change - human cloning is routinely opposed by
        some people who, perhaps, might object to being labeled Luddites.

        I definitely don't think "embrace change" is vacuous. On the
        contrary, reading some Roberto Unger, who in the domain of social
        science says the same thing under the slogan "Plasticity into Power",
        I found more content in the position than I would have expected from
        a principle of software development.


        The greatest obstacle to transforming the world is that we lack the
        clarity and imagination to conceive that it could be different.
        Roberto Mangabeira Unger
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