Monday, May 22, 2006

Cost, Cruft and Constraints

My earlier blog-entry on "Feedback, Flow, and Friction" met with mixed reviews.

Many commented that agile development is ultimately about lowering the cost of change. Others noted feedback is important, but unless you respond to it, and take appropriate action, it's not the be-all and end-all it may seem. A few felt the that "friction" wasnt quite close enough to "contraints."

It seems when it comes right down to it, Agile, Lean and TOC are all about trying to eliminate and/or remove the following:
  • Cost-of-change: Agile is about reducing the cost of change by making change easy and catching the need to change much earlier thru continous feedback and close, frequent stakeholder interaction.

  • Cruft: It (cruft) is waste! And Lean is all about eliminating waste in order to maximize flow.

  • Constraints: TOC is all about eliminating constraints, and using the five focusing steps to do it.
While we're at it - Six Sigma is also about eliminating something: variation (but not just any kind of variation). It's about eliminating "destructive" variation. Destructive variation is value-subtracting variation (rather than value-adding).

The phrase "Cost, Cruft and Constraints" doesnt sound as attractive as "Feedback, Flow and Friction." A large part of that may be due to its nonconstructive focus on what to eliminate rather than on what to create.

For each thing I'm allegedly eliminating, I'm gaining something else:
  • Reducing the cost-of-change makes it easier to accommodate change and be adaptive/responsive

  • Eliminating waste helps maximize flow of the production pipeline.

  • Eliminating constraints help maximize throughput

  • Eliminating destructive variation helps maximize quality in terms of correctness, reliability, availability, operability, maintainability, etc.

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