Failure Rates

Thomas_J_Watson_Sr“If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.”
—Thomas J. Watson, IBM

Pair-Author Backlog Items for Faster, Better Results

Product Backlog Item (PBI) writing in Scrum is best done by pairing a Product Owner with an architect or team member. The Product Owner brings a stakeholder perspective to the table, and PBIs should include that “value perspective” in every case. When the PO is not “primary”, you get PBIs that have no demonstrable stakeholder or business value.

However, some POs think they are the only people who can initially author PBIs. They think they must wait to talk to the whole team to get them into better shape. As a result, the whole team must edit confusing PBIs tied to an uncertain architecture.

When the Product Owner waits for the whole team to meet to incorporate developer insight, Product Planning slows, at very high cost to the organization. Continue reading

How We Charge Our Clients

Senex Rex charges by the day, not the hour. This allows us to focus, to think, to innovate. Tracking time obsessively, as many lawyers and consultants do, turns them into automatons who can follow the rules, color inside the lines, who might take a dysfunctional situation and make it average.

We’re reasonable, of course. If we just do a one-hour call, we don’t charge. Doing the best for our customers sometimes means we work a 14 hour day, and we charge just a day for that.

When we take a client, we seek to make them world class. We address tough problems like agile sustainability. We seek to build our skills into the DNA of our clients, so they don’t need us anymore. And our clients praise us for that.

See James Surowiecki, “The Cult of Overwork,” The New Yorker, January 27, 2014.

Agile Resolutions

January is “New Years Resolution Month” for me. I plan what I’ll improve in the rest of the year and how I’ll do it. Roughly 88% of people who make New Years Resolutions fail [Lehrer 2009]. Twenty years ago, software projects had extremely high failure rates like this. The software industry started adopting “agile” management practices, bringing project failure rates down to less than 50%.

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