It has been some time since I first read Robert Sternberg’s Successful Intelligence; however, I would highly recommend it to others as it is one of my top five books. The book contains much of value, but it was the brief exploration of haste and its relation to intellect which particularly resonated with me.
The author conducted a survey of people from all backgrounds in order to gain insight into what they perceived to be a sign of intelligence. He was surprised to find that American respondents tended to use terms such as ‘quick’ and ‘speedy’, while Europeans were more likely to mention ‘contemplative’, ‘insightful’ and ‘innovative’. He went on to explain that we often judge people based on their ability to complete tasks promptly, without considering their potential for deep contemplation and applying their knowledge.
The word “quick” is a suitable descriptor for IT. Developers and project managers consistently strive to meet increasingly strict deadlines. Because of its prevalence in modern society, phrases exist to describe the consequences of accelerated development.
It is regrettable that long hours and high pressure are often necessary for developers. However, we must recognize that we are not in a position of leadership; we are in a position of keeping up with a rapidly changing market and technological advancements. To remain competitive, we must either keep up or risk being left behind.
Which Is Better, an Agile Team or a Band-Aid?
For many years, the Waterfall model was the primary approach used in software development. All of us are familiar with the steps involved in this process: requirements gathering, design, implementation, verification and maintenance. We are also aware of the potential issues that can arise from this approach.
For developers, “don’t take a step without a plan” is reflective of the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) required by the Waterfall Methodology. This can often lead to prolonged delays, as well as situations in which more time is spent deliberating whether or not to implement a change, than actually implementing it.
Waterfall methodology is analogous to a black box from the client’s point of view; the client provides a set of requirements, receives occasional updates every few weeks to monitor progress, and then acquires the final product which may not correspond to their expectations.
RStiffness is a key factor in both scenarios. Structure plays an essential role in the development process, however, it can also act as a barrier. When markets were more relaxed in the 1970s (where it was necessary to physically deliver cassettes or floppy disks to customers), linear models were successful.
In contrast to the traditional method of software development, the accelerated rate of modern life requires a more up-to-date approach. Therefore, many developers have adopted the agile team model, where a small yet highly independent group of people collaborate to develop on an existing structure utilizing iterative prototypes.
Agile focuses on the concept of ‘failing fast’, which encourages the release of working code as soon as possible to identify any issues early on. Although this may appear careless, the approach is based on the understanding that rapid deployment is essential nowadays and all software will eventually have some faults. This allows for minor issues to be identified and rectified quickly, rather than waiting until the product is fully deployed and a major issue is uncovered.
Agile methods enable customers to have a more active role in the development of the final product; they can provide ongoing feedback throughout the process. This assumes that the customer is available to collaborate with the agile team.
Agile methodologies are not without their own set of challenges. Without a structured plan, scope creep and changes to the backlog are more likely to occur. Furthermore, if the customer is not clear on their desired outcome, the project can become confused due to their repeated revisions.
Agile methodology is often beneficial for smaller projects, as it can provide a streamlined approach to managing tasks. However, it can become unwieldy when larger projects are undertaken, as complexity can increase rapidly. For this reason, agile teams may not be the ideal solution for more committed development processes.
Read up on the topic of Software Development Teams to see how they may help you.
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Assembling Multidisciplinary Groups: The New Normal
Aristotle, one of the most influential Greek philosophers, proposed that virtue is the ideal balance between vice and virtue, similar to how a successful compromise can be found between conflicting interests. Hybrid project management is gaining traction as an alternative to both the inflexible waterfall approach and the more adaptable agile methodology. Consequently, it can be argued that it is possible to achieve both quick and considered progress.
In a nutshell, these are the responsibilities:
- The Hybrid Team Leader acts as the Product Manager, conducting customer surveys, developing a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and delegating responsibilities to the various teams. Unlike the Waterfall Approach, the PM does not need to be consulted on every decision, unless it would significantly affect the WBS.
- The Project Manager is responsible for liaising with clients and managing the front end of the project, while other team members take on the role of Scrum Master, overseeing development progress throughout sprints and managing the back end of the project.
This is how it often works out throughout development:
Analyze:In order to determine what the customer needs, the project manager conducts interviews and questionnaires.
Plan:The Project Manager is convening the team to create a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and an initial timeline for the project. The first Scrum Master is now in place.
Design:The development process starts out with the planning and execution of the first sprint session, which establishes the project’s goals and foundation.
Sprint:The Scrum master now has control, and development may commence. Preparing a prototype for the customer might take anywhere from four to six weeks.
Testing:After using the product, the customer provides comments to the project manager.
Sprint:As the second sprint phase commences and client feedback is being taken into consideration, the possibility of appointing a new Scrum Master is being explored. The sprints are not pre-planned in the same manner as the preceding one, demonstrating the team’s capability to operate effectively in an agile environment.
Iterate:Sprint and test often until the project is complete.
Hybrid teams strive to create a robust foundation from the outset while preserving a malleable structure with minimal bureaucracy. Much like agile teams, the members of a hybrid team work most efficiently when they share a unified vision. Thankfully, the initial planning phase assists in forming a collective vision for the project.
Hybrid teams combine the stability needed to successfully complete large projects with the flexibility to respond to changing priorities. Much like how a compass always points towards the north star when sailing, the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) can be seen as a guiding force. By keeping focused on the desired outcome, teams are able to explore various directions and solutions.
Mixed-type teams undoubtedly come with potential drawbacks. It is important to acknowledge that there is always scope for improvement with any system. By combining two different ways of working, any potential issues from both methodologies can be encountered. However, the upside of this approach is that it enables the weaknesses of one approach to be compensated for by the strengths of the other.