Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bizarro-tive development

Anyone familiar with Superman also knows about Bizarro, a doppelganger of Superman.  Bizarro looks like Superman, but is opposite in every way.  Instead of saving people, he kills them.  Instead of eloquent speech, he talks like Tarzan.  He's not from Earth, but from Htrea (Earth backwards, clever).  And so on.

A colleague reminded me again of the challenges of explaining iterative development to a manager who had been living with waterfall for many years.  The timeboxing concept came through, but iterative and incremental, not so much.

We drew our original six-month schedule on the board and chopped it up into monthly iterations, saying we would deliver at the end of each month.  We should have been more specific on what "deliver" meant, because this was what the manager then suggested:

  • Iteration 1: Envisioning
  • Iteration 2: Planning
  • Iteration 3: Development
  • Iteration 4: Refactoring
  • Iteration 5: Testing
  • Iteration 6: Stabilization

Each iteration is timeboxed, which is good, but this is just slapping arbitrary exit points on waterfall.  Not iterative, but bizarro-tive development.  Once we explained further, this was the next suggestion:

  • Iteration 1
    • Week 1: Envisioning/Planning
    • Week 2: Development
    • Week 3: Refactoring
    • Week 4: Testing/Stabilization
  • Iteration 2 - lather, rinse, repeat

Still not exactly what we were talking about.  True iterative development has most or all aspects happen every day, and some points in the iteration some things will happen more than others.  But we're never doing just one aspect, and slapping phases into iterations isn't iterative development, but it's what Bizarro might do.

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