Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Agile and Model of Concurrent Perception

Dr. Rubinstein is professor of engineering and applied science at the University of California, Los Angeles, has written articles and books on Concepts in Problem Solving and Tools for Thinking and Problem Solving.

As per Dr.Rubinstein's model of concurrent perception, if we start with trying to keep the order from the beginning it leads to Chaos at the end.

For example, in traditional waterfall model, the stakeholders try from the beginning to keep order by
  • trying to gather all the requirements and freezing them
  • creating project plan written on stone with exact dates of release and delivery
  • building the design and architecture and freezing them
Since there is no room for a retrospection at any time in between, the traditional waterfall model leads to chaos at the end with the delivery of the poor quality product, missed deadlines.

Dr.Rubinstein, suggests that try to have chaos as much as possible in the system. Chaos here, does not mean a havoc/uncontrolled nature, but a sense of openness to receive feedback.

Dr.Rubinstein quotes the example of car manufacturing. Before building a new concept car, engineers from various departments are invited for a discussion and their views are taken. At regular intervals, feedback from respective departments are taken, even if it leads to many changes to the design. The system which is open for changes in the beginning, ultimately ends with Order.

If we look at the recommendation from the above model, i.e. have chaos to have order , don't you think this is where the principles of Agile fits in ? .

In case of Agile, the chaos stays in the system by virtue of practices like
  • Open to receive new requirements at any time
  • Collaboration with the customer on a daily basis and open to receive feedback
  • Self Organizing and Self Managing teams as opposed to command and control
  • Weekly review and demo for the customer to get feedback
  • Retrospectives at the end of iterations to learn from past mistakes and plan for the future

Dr.Rubinstein says
concurrent perception feeds vitality, while sequential perception saps it

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