I came across Robert Sternberg’s Successful Intelligence a while ago and it quickly secured a spot in my top five must-reads. This book is full of valuable insights, but what stuck with me was the author’s insight into the connection between intellect and haste.
By conducting a broad survey of individuals from different backgrounds, the author gained a better understanding of what people consider to be indicative of intelligence. Surprisingly, respondents from America frequently used adjectives like ‘quick’ and ‘speedy’, while Europeans were more likely to reference ‘contemplative’, ‘insightful’ and ‘innovative’. The author goes on to clarify that we often evaluate individuals based on their efficiency in finishing tasks, rather than considering their aptitude for thoughtful contemplation and practical application of their expertise.
The term “quick” is often used to describe the work of IT professionals. Programmers and project managers alike are under constant pressure to meet daunting deadlines. Given its ubiquity in contemporary society, numerous phrases have emerged to capture the effects of accelerated development.
It is unfortunate that software developers must frequently endure long hours and immense pressure. Nevertheless, we must acknowledge that our role is not that of leading, but rather of keeping pace with an ever-evolving market and technological advances. To remain viable, we must either adapt or risk becoming obsolete.
Should You Choose an Agile Team or a Band-Aid Solution?
Historically, the Waterfall methodology was the dominant method employed in software development. We’re all acquainted with the progression of stages in this model: requirements analysis, design, coding, testing and upkeep. Yet, we’re also aware of the potential difficulties that can emerge from this strategy.
The Waterfall Methodology’s Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), which mandates a “plan before proceeding” approach, is well-known among software developers. However, this strategy may result in lengthy delays and situations where more time is spent deciding whether or not to enact a modification, rather than in its actual implementation.
The Waterfall methodology can appear as a black box to clients; they offer a list of requirements, receive periodic updates every few weeks to assess advancement, and ultimately receive the final product, which might differ from their original expectations.
The importance of rigidity is evident in both of these approaches. Structure is critical to the software development process, yet it can also serve as a hindrance. During the more laid-back era of the 1970s, where shipping cassettes or floppy disks to customers was the norm, linear models were effective.
As opposed to the conventional software development process, modern-day rapidity necessitates a more up-to-date approach. For this reason, numerous developers have shifted to the agile team model, which utilizes iterative prototypes to develop on an existing structure collaboratively through a small yet highly independent group of individuals.
The agile approach emphasizes the idea of ‘failing fast’, which promotes the prompt release of functioning code to detect any difficulties at an early stage. While this approach may seem hasty, its foundation lies in the belief that rapid delivery is crucial in today’s circumstances, and all software is vulnerable to some degree of flaws over time. This enables swift identification and resolution of minor issues, rather than waiting until the product has been fully delivered and a significant issue surfaces.
By employing the agile methodology, clients can maintain a more hands-on role in the development of the end product, supplying uninterrupted feedback throughout the process. However, this presumes that the client is willing and capable of collaborating with the agile team.
Agile approaches come with their own unique set of difficulties. Lacking a defined plan increases the likelihood of scope creep and changes to the backlog. Additionally, if the client is uncertain about the intended result, constant revisions may cause confusion and disorder in the project.
Agile methodology is frequently advantageous for smaller ventures, as it facilitates a more streamlined method of managing tasks. However, it may prove cumbersome for more extensive projects, as complexity can grow quickly. As a result, agile teams may not be an ideal solution for more complex development undertakings.
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The Emerging Norm: Multi-disciplinary Group Formation
Aristotle, one of the most renowned ancient Greek philosophers, proposed the concept that virtue is an optimal balance between vice and virtue, which is comparable to discovering a successful compromise between conflicting interests. Hybrid project management is gaining in popularity as an alternative to both the rigid waterfall framework and the more adaptable agile methodology. Consequently, it can be suggested that it is possible to achieve both swift and deliberate forward movement.
To put it briefly, these are the duties:
- The Hybrid Team Leader operates as the Product Manager, by performing customer surveys, producing a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), and distributing responsibilities to the different teams. Unlike the Waterfall Approach, the PM’s consultation is not required for every decision, unless it would have a significant impact on the WBS.
- The Project Manager is accountable for client communication and overseeing the front-end of the project, while other team members are designated as Scrum Masters, monitoring development progress during sprints and managing the back-end of the project.
This is how the development process frequently unfolds:
Analysis:To identify the client’s requirements, the project manager conducts interviews and surveys.
Planning:The Project Manager assembles the team to develop a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and an initial timeline for the project. The first Scrum Master is now appointed.
Design:The development process commences with the planning and execution of the first sprint session, which lays the groundwork and objective of the project.
Sprint:The development is now under the supervision of the Scrum Master, and progress can begin. Creating a prototype for the customer could take up to four to six weeks.
Testing:The customer provides feedback to the Project Manager after using the product.
Sprint:As the second sprint phase begins and customer input is taken into account, the feasibility of employing a new Scrum Master is being explored. The sprints are not planned in the same manner as the previous one, which demonstrates the team’s ability to work effectively in an agile setting.
Iteration:Continuously sprinting and testing until the project is finished.
Hybrid teams aim to establish a strong base while keeping a flexible structure with minimal red tape. Like agile teams, a hybrid team functions best when its members share a common vision. Fortunately, the initial planning phase helps create a shared vision for the project.
Hybrid teams merge the stability necessary to complete sizable projects with the adaptability to handle altered priorities. Similar to how a compass always points towards the North Star when navigating, the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) can serve as a guiding force. By staying focused on the end goal, teams can explore different paths and solutions.
Mixed teams certainly come with potential disadvantages. It’s crucial to recognize that every system has room for improvement. By bringing together two different working methods, any potential problems from either method can be addressed. However, the upside of this approach is that it allows the weaknesses of one approach to be balanced out by the strengths of the other.