Tagged: agile

Jugaad – India’s Agile style

I’ve been reading about India’s concept of Jugaad, possibly poised to enter our buzzword vocabulary since it came up in the context of what Obama can learn from that country.

Where the Agile Manifesto starts with “Individuals and Interactions” the Harvard Business Review kicks off Jugaad with “Thrift not Waste”.

All too often I’ve seen Agile work because a scarcity of resources (money, time or knowledge) pushed an otherwise waterfall loving group into giving Agile a shot. The tenants of Jugaad resonate with me as a more general philosophy about how to get things accomplished then Agile’s focus on “working software”.

Agile Manifesto

We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

Jugaad (quoted from HBR):

The Hindi term roughly translates as “overcoming harsh constraints by improvising an effective solution using limited resources”. We call it the art of creative improvisation.

Thrift not waste. Tackle scarcity.
Inclusion, not exclusion. diversity of communities
Bottom-up participation, not top-down command and control.
Flexible thinking and action, not linear planning.

It feels like we are talking about the same thing. Get a team together and empower them to solve the necessary problem. Nowhere is there a concept of ‘throw money at the problem’ or ‘hire more consultants’. Plan for change and change plans in order to achieve success.

I’m on a barcamp high today. We could have had a conference with a big budget, focused our marketing on the demographic of web designers/developers, planned it from an executive committee and wrote a gant chart tracking the critical path from start to finish. It would have been a big show, but it would not have been barcamp and it would not have been awesome.

Software engineers learned that top down does not work. Indian’s entrepreneurs espousing that top down does not work.

Spend a few moments today to consider if you think top down, centralized control of food production is a good idea: http://foodfreedom.wordpress.com/2010/04/24/s-510-is-hissing-in-the-grass/

Project Management is critical for Useless projects

This about this:

If you have a project with an estimated cost of $1MM and you expect a return of $1.1MM then strict governance and process controls are critical to success. A variance of 10% will take you from profitability to a loss.

If you have a project with the same estimated $1MM cost but an expected return of $50MM then project management is less critical. a 10% variance will not really matter in the big picture. Given my fictional example even a 100% to 500% cost overrun could happen and keep the “success” label.

So the take home message is that project management is critical for useless projects. If you have a great project then even with terrible project management you will still be successful.

In my own experience we run a might tighter governance on the weekly ‘Features and Maintenance’ sprint team as opposed to the month long ‘bigger feature’ sprint.

So put your bad PMs on key initiatives and shuffle the best to the menial tasks.

And get yourself on a ‘no-fail’ path by ensuring that all your projects have large ROI with logarithmic (hockey stick) growth.

I love reading articles by fearless people with ‘tenure’ at IEEE!