Virtual currency like Cory Doctorowâ€
You can get a head start by using Agile development principles to min-max your Whuffie earning potential.
Cory shows us how in his seminal book Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. (Released under a creative commons license.)
In Down and Out the protagonists are trying to quickly refurbish Disneyâ€
“Okay, so tell me, if we came to you with this plan and asked you to pull together a production schedule — one that didn’t have any review, just take the idea and run with it — and then pull it off, how long would it take you to execute it?”
Lil smiled primly. She’d dealt with Imagineering before.
“About five years,” he said, almost instantly.
Our heroes donâ€
“Five years?” I squawked. “Why five years? Debra’s people overhauled the Hall in a month!”
“Oh, wait,” he said. “No review at all?”
“No review. Just come up with the best way you can to do this, and do it. And we can provide you with unlimited, skilled labor, three shifts around the clock.”
He rolled his eyes back and ticked off days on his fingers while muttering under his breath. He was a tall, thin man with a shock of curly dark hair that he smoothed unconsciously with surprisingly stubby fingers while he thought.
“About eight weeks,” he said. “Barring accidents, assuming off-the-shelf parts, unlimited labor, capable management, material availability. . .” He trailed off again, and his short fingers waggled as he pulled up a HUD and started making a list.
Five years? Eight weeks? Our heroes are perplexed. It seems outside the realm of sanity that a project could take either Five years or eight weeks. (But not if you think about Windows Vista or Appleâ€
“Wait,” Lil said, alarmed. “How do you get from five years to eight weeks?”
Now it was my turn to smirk. I’d seen how Imagineering worked when they were on their own, building prototypes and conceptual mockups — I knew that the real bottleneck was the constant review and revisions, the ever-fluctuating groupmind consensus of the ad-hoc that commissioned their work.
Suneep looked sheepish. “Well, if all I have to do is satisfy myself that my plans are good and my buildings won’t fall down, I can make it happen very fast. Of course, my plans aren’t perfect. Sometimes, I’ll be halfway through a project when someone suggests a new flourish or approach that makes the whole thing immeasurably better. Then it’s back to the drawing board. . . So I stay at the drawing board for a long time at the start, get feedback from other Imagineers, from the ad-hocs, from focus groups and the Net. Then we do reviews at every stage of construction, check to see if anyone has had a great idea we haven’t thought of and incorporate it, sometimes rolling back the work.
An Agile process like SCRUM recognizes this fact and uses the concept of the sprint to create a bubble of focus in an ocean of distractions. During a sprint nothing should changeâ€”if something does change (new business reality, a framework that doesnâ€
A few things are interesting to note:
- The 12 principles of the Agile Manifesto donâ€
t talk about sprints. The principle of time-boxing a problem seems to be missing. SCRUM and other Agile methods inspired by automotive process management married the idea of sprints or locked iterations to Agile.
- In Corryâ€
s book the Imagineers fall weeks behind schedule because they canâ€ t handle their newfound freedom from stakeholder feedback. Iâ€ m pretty sure itâ€ s because our heroes are too busy struggling through their own character driven plot to act as product owners and keep the Imagineers focused.
- There is a big difference between stakeholder feedback (changing requirements) and product owner feedback (understanding requirements). SCRUM groks this. The Agile manifesto hints at it.
Using an Agile/SCRUM process to develop your projects enables you to deliver on time while incorporating changes. The net-effect is a dramatic increase in your Whuffie. You might as well start banking it now 🙂