- Posted on May 20, 2007 3:41:AM by Earl Beede to Practicing Earl
- Methods & Processes, Agile, humor, life cycle, candy, Management
I was teaching an Agile seminar recently when the image of a PEZ candy dispenser popped into my head. Why, PEZ candy, I thought, is just like an Agile project. You work things in priority order by taking what is off the top of the stack of similar sized bits of work. We know that they are similar size since we broke down the bigger ones until they at least fit into the iteration length. Like PEZ, the product owner could rearrange the candy flavors however they liked until I put one into my mouth. Then it is either spit it out or eat it, no changing the flavor.
This metaphor may be the perfect thing for solving the Agile name problem. A few of the "founders" of Agile have suggest that the name "Agile" was not the best choice. I mean, who really is saying their development methodology is "rigid"? Also, there isn't a good name for the opposite of Agile. Boehm uses a term like "Plan-driven". Others have used the term "traditional". I have used the idea of "deterministic". But if I rename Agile to "PEZ Development", that opens all up all sorts of useful comparisons.
Waterfall can become "Jawbreaker Development". One big, hard lump that, no matter how long you suck on it, never seems to go away. Of course, we all know somebody who said that they actually finished a jawbreaker in their lifetime. Sure they did. I think they just licked at it for awhile before it got lost behind the clothes washer. As kids, most of us took out a hammer and broke our breaker. It was much easier to consume as a chunk here and a splinter there. Once we got tired of it, the rest could be thrown away.
Spiral can become "Tootsie Roll Pop Development". You start out with the hard stuff. By slowly spinning it around and around in your mouth, you take care of all the hard things that can break your teeth. Once that is gone, the soft, easily consumed center is quickly dispatched.
All the well run sequential models (staged delivery, design to schedule, etc.) are "Chocolate Bunny Development". Of course, here I am referring to the large, solid chocolate bunnies given in the spring at Easter. You can substitute your favorite holiday large chocolate item if you wish. Usually consumed in series of scheduled times (like after dinner or, for me, when awake), you keep eating it until it is gone or you run out of time (your Dad takes it and eats the rest). Also a common feature of this type of candy is a decision to eat in a certain order. First go the ears, then the feet...
The old code-and-fix model can be "M&M Development". Sure, its fun to eat but you just don't stop. Not even when the bag is gone, you just go get another one. There is no way to eat a few. You also never really know when you have had enough.
Evolutionary prototyping is "Salt Water Taffy Development". Pick one up out of the pile of brightly colored taffy and taste it. Most of the time you spit it right back out because it tasks like, well, salt water. But, you try again until you find one that is edible. Then you stop since you know it is not wise to press your luck.
I think that this general renaming of software development can really help us identify the best of each set of practices. It can help us get out of the "my way is good" and "your way is bad" syndrome. By using this naming standard we can see that there is something sweet about each way of approaching software development. It can also remind us that too much software development before dinner can ruin our appetite.
And you can be the Candy Man!