Archive for the ‘Coaching’ Category

Trusted Software Delivery

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Trusted software delivery has two dimensions: High integrity intentions and competent execution.

  1. Higher integrity intentions (i.e., targets) are improved by quantifying value as well as cost in planning and scoping alternatives.
  2. Competence in execution is achieved through better steering and lean transformation. Measures of effectiveness quantify our intentions: plans, intermediate targets and scope.  Measures of efficiency quantify our execution: progress and quality of delivery.

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Economic governance–Conclusions

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

IBM’s broad industry experience and deep internal know-how point to three key principles to deliver sustained measureable improvements in software business outcomes with higher confidence: (more…)

Measuring progress and quality honestly

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Progress and quality are the two dimensions of metrics needed for effective steering. Progress metrics are indicators of how much work has been accomplished. Quality metrics provide indicators of how well that work has been accomplished. With these two perspectives, stakeholders can assess more accurately whether a project is likely to deliver predictably against the target outcomes. Although financial metrics are also needed, financial status is simple and well understood. We know exactly how much money has been spent and how much time has elapsed. The challenge with most earned value management (EVM) systems is to quantify how much technical progress has been accomplished so that it can be compared with cost expended and time expended.  A reliable measure of earned value (or technical progress as a percent complete) is necessary to accurately forecast the estimates to complete. Traditional EVM methods measure against static targets and usually result in misleading indicators of software progress. However, there is no reason EVM cannot be used with dynamically changing targets and more honest assessments of software delivery.

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Managing uncertainty through steering leadership

Monday, March 25th, 2013

There are probably more books on agile methods than successful projects with well-documented agile results. Writing a book on agility or project management, where the decision-making process is laid out in the abstract, is easy compared to managing a real project where you must steer through a minefield of uncertainties and the consequences of decisions under game conditions are very real. We should place increased emphasis on publishing measured improvement case studies. They are critical to accelerating the innovation delivered in software.

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More Honest predictions

Monday, March 18th, 2013

While quoting the most likely outcome, i.e., the mean, or median or mode of a probability distribution, may be a rough prediction, a more honest representation of the prediction would quantify the full range of possible outcomes. For example, the most likely outcome of 150 days is an accurate portrayal of the expected target date in the two upper graphics of the figure in my last post. However, by expressing how sure we are of that guess—a coin flip in one case and a confident commitment in the other—we are much more honest and transparent in communicating that information to others.

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The Crux of Economic Governance

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Suppose you are the project manager for a software product that your organization needs to be delivered in 12 months to satisfy a critical business need. You gather your leadership team, perhaps an architect a development manager and a test manager, and analyze the project scope and constraints to estimate the resources and time needed. You employ empirical models that estimate the project should take 11 months. Excellent! What do you do with that information?

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Transforming to Economic Governance

Monday, February 25th, 2013

Highly complex systems like societies, economies, and evolution are also non-deterministic because they represent unpredictable life forms interacting with each other in chaotic ways. Long term weather forecasting, hurricane prediction and earthquake prediction are similarly complex and non-deterministic. These large-scale systems have emergent behaviors where we can create probabilistic models that predict the range of outcomes and likelihood of outcomes, but never the exact outcome. Why? There is uncertainty inherent in the interacting elements (i.e., humans with free will, random or unpredictable acts of nature, mutations, innovations, etc.). This does not mean that these predictive models are not useful. It simply means that we must reason about things differently and understand both the distribution of outcomes and the uncertainty inherent in that distribution to make better decisions.

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Agility is also a function of design

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

The trends in changing executable software baselines and particularly the cost-of-change trends are the true measure of the agility. Agility means changing easily so we need to quantify change trends. Both architectural integrity and process effectiveness will drive the cost-of-change. Therefore, agility is NOT just a process attribute, it is equally, if not more, an attribute of good design.

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Integration first leads to more agile outcomes

Monday, February 4th, 2013

To transform successfully from conventional engineering governance to more agile economic governance requires a significant cultural transformation. This is best achieved through the pursuit of one simple change theme: Integration testing should precede unit testing. In practice, this theme is overly simplistic and a bit stark: Integration and unit testing actually proceed in parallel. However, to accelerate the transformation to increased agility, it is best to simplify and clarify that the highest priority is to achieve intermediate milestones of executable test cases of integrated functionality.

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Dimwitticisms

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

A witticism is a remark that is amusingly clever in perception or expression. Robert Hartwell Fiske coined the term dimwitticism in his book, The Dimwit’s Dictionary, to describe the opposite: dull expressions that provide no insight. This is a great example of observations and judgments on style and usage. From his preface: (more…)