Agile is Effective. But is it COST-effective?

Episode 103 - 25 Oct 2017

Agile, with all its iterations, can hardly be described as efficient.

Agile is not efficient. What it is, is effective.

But is it Cost-effective?


Today I’m going to do some mathematical magic

I’m going to show you that 1 + 1 = 3.

At least.

Two tasks, each of similar size: each likely to take a week.

To keep the maths simple, I’m going to say that each is ONE unit of work.

I have two basic choices:

I could work on them concurrently Or I could work on them sequentially

(To the annoyance of some of you, I'm going to ignore factors such as context switching. Again, I want to keep the maths simple.)

The maths we need right now is the speed of working.

In the concurrent case, it’s two units of work divided by two weeks.

That's a speed of 1 unit of work per week.

In the sequential case, it's two units of work divided by two weeks.

Also a speed of 1 unit of work per week.

Hmm. I was rather hoping that a 3 might appear.

Another viewpoint

Perhaps I need to look at this from a different angle.

Perhaps I need to look at it from a different point of view: the point of view of the customer.

The customer doesn't know - nor care - about how long a particular chunk of work took to do.

She's only interested in - she can only see! - the value that it provides.

And she can only see the value that it provides when it's complete. When it's live.

The things I make provide zero value while I’m making them.

And then they go live. Now the customer is able to receive the value.

What's great is that the thing that took just a week or two to build will provide value for much longer than that. But I want to focus on theee three weeks.

For the concurrent case, it’s two units of work in, two units of value out.

I think you’ll find the second example more interesting:

The first item delivers a chunk of value in week two.

Item two comes on stream in week three - and its value “stacks up”.

Oh look! Two units of work in. THREE units of value out.

1 + 1 = 3.

But I’m just getting warmed up:


What if I have not two but ten tasks? Ten units of work.

If I wait until they’re all done and dusted, all of the value appears in week 11.

10 units of work in, 10 units of value out.

But if I release as I go along, the picture looks very different.

The value stacks up.

I’ll save you the trouble of counting the squares: 10 units of work in. 55 units of value.

That’s what I call cost-effective.