Friday, February 03, 2006

My Brain Is Constipated

Working...on...Theory Of Constraints essay.

So tired...



Actually, it isn't that bad. I have spent a large portion of this week, and the last, working on an essay that summarises the basics of TOC and Throughput Accounting. I have worked with agile methodologies for several years, and have now reach a point where it is time to stop, reflect on what I know, and check if the theory and my experiences match. So far they do, which is very nice.

Management theory may sound boring, but it isn't. Right now I am focusing on the mathematical side of management theory, and it is fascinating how an equation can leap out at you and say things like "move those desks closer together, and that screen from here to there", or "if you move one person from analysis to test, you will make the deadline without overtime".

Most managers, including me, go by experience, best practises and rule of thumb most of the time. This is a good thing. It makes for quick, flexible decision-making. On the other hand, if you don't verify your practises and rules against both reality and the models describing them, how can you know if you are doing things right? How do you know if you are doing the right things?

For example, most managers do know that iterative development is better than waterfall development. They also know that short iterations are better than long ones, as long as they aren't too short.

Exactly why is it that iterations are better than waterfall? Most would answer "better steering", and be satisfied. That is only part of the answer. The rest of the answer has to do with reduced cycle times, and increased speed of development. If you reduce batch sizes (iterations, design-test-code cycles, delivery cycles, whatever), the process will go faster. This isn't intuitively obvious, and it is nice to be able to prove it mathematically.

I'll publish a link to the essay when it is finished

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