A Commonplace

What is a commonplace?



Managing the Shear

Robert Anton Wilson calls it the "Snafu principle". Venkatesh Rao says it's why we need "clueless" people in our organisations. People selling Agile methodologies, even the ones that are doing their level best to be totally honest, try to pretend that it doesn't exist.

Dougald Hine in a very interesting article just a couple of days ago says it requires you to speak a different language. Venkatesh Rao in a different article says the same.

What am I talking about? I'm talking about the shear. The rupture that is an inevitable part of of any project.

Remember what we talked about. Project initiation at its best is idealistic and simplistic. In order to get a project going, the benefits of the project have to be over-emphasised and the risks and costs have to be obscured. This uses a certain kind of language, a certain kind of thinking. Idealistic, positiv, generalised, appealing and beguiling.

But if this project requires software to be written, it needs a different kind of thinking and talking. It needs language that is detailed, focused, specific and practical. This is a language and an attitude that highlights problems, raises questions and focuses on uncertainties.

If a project uses Scrum, or any other Agile method that is an instantiation of an empirical process of inspection and adaptation as a way of making the software on a projectd happen, the idealised vision of the project is going to be called into question very quickly. The simple process of trying to do a small amount of work in a small amount of time will throw up a lot of problems for the simplistic, idealistic vision that got a project started.