Some of you may be familiar with the term, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas….”
Well, tonight I am introducing a new guest writer to the blog, a guy I have worked with for almost the past three years on some major enterprise rollouts of Scrum and co-train with him on a pretty regular basis. His name is Mark Pushinsky and this “enlightenment” came to him a few years ago and we have been waiting on how to actually introduce this to the Scrum Community.
So… without further ado… here is his write-up on the topic (and thanks to Tony as usual for the cartoon!).
I may add something to it later this week (smile).
I was on my way back from Vegas sitting on a plane, with a massive hangover…….and this thought occurred to me.
I know they say that, �What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas� but this occurred to me on the plane ride home and I am pretty sure we cleared Nevada airspace before it did so I feel compelled to share it.
Do you know about the �Cone of Uncertainty�? It is a phenomena that people in software use to describe the fact that when you start a project you have no idea when you�ll finish.
The longer the project goes and the closer you get to finishing the better/more accurate your estimate. Basically you are pretty sure your going to finish it the day before its done.
We have been trying to make it go away in software for many years. Fancy new estimation techniques, months and months of analysis, and brute force have not materially changed the fact that software projects are unpredictable!
Managers having been trying for decades to make it disappear/pretend it doesn�t exist/figure out how to make it turn from a cone into a cylinder.
Yet time and time again the uncertainty in projects remains.
The epiphany that occurred to me is that Agile or Scrum flips it around. This means that if you ask me what I can deliver in the next 2-4 weeks I am pretty accurate, if you ask me what I am going to deliver 3 months from now I have some uncertainty, but I can give you a reasonable guess, and if you ask me what I can deliver 6 months from now I have no idea…….
When we teach Estimation and Planning in class, we make a point of saying that Agile does not make the �Cone� disappear.
We use light weight, proven techniques to make our best guess at long term plans.
We don�t pretend to know the end…….in fact we are pretty sure it will change……and we commit to be back in 2-4 weeks to tell you how its changed.
Then we focus on short term commitments, doing the right things, executing well, and delivering real business value.
I have found that after a couple of iterations of working that way we get customers focused more on prioritization, the next release, and getting impediments removed.
They begin to worry less about when the whole thing will be done.
I think the best way to end a project is to stop working on it before all of �The Requirements� have been implemented.
The 80/20 rule, right?
So there goes.
Mark is an awesome person, trainer, and mentor by the way…. While our opinions do not match 100% I love the opportunity to provide an outlet for different opinions and thoughts (even if we are competitors and collaborators in the marketplace).
Let me know if you are interested in contributing in the future!
Gotta run!.Please send comments, questions, criticisms, ideas, or whatever here.
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February 18, 2008