Thursday, January 31, 2008

Deadwood is Dead-on Agile (Part One)

Quotes on the making of the Emmy award winning HBO series Deadwood:

We often start filming and don't have a script.

Stephen Tobolowsky who plays "Hugo Jerry"

The story doesn't get written in advance...past what you show the network executives. They say okay and then you start filming. It grows as one thing happens as a result of another. In fact, an episode may start with one single scene. How that scene plays out then suggests what's going to happen to the writers.

Jeffrey Jones who plays "A.W. Merrick"

Agile projects often start with "one scene" or a bite-sized deliverable to be produced in a short period of time: a week or a month. Then the team comes back to the table with a demo of a workable, tested, piece of business value. The landscape could have changed for the business sponsor in that time (and often has). Priorities could have shifted. Budgets could have been adjusted. An emergency could have emerged. A key person could have left. So the business stands back, takes into account the current topology and constraints, and decides what's the most important thing to work on right now for the next increment of time--the next "scene." Maybe that means stopping on this project and moving to another. Perhaps 80 percent of the potential business value is met within the first two increments and the opportunity costs associated with pushing for that last 20 percent just don't add up.

I'm working with a potential client right now that has as its top two priorities items that were not even on its radar three months ago. I venture to say that is not uncommon. Some say how can an Agile approach possibly work? Others say how could it work any other way?

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