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Don’t Miss THE DATE

Adapted from the real experience of a business analyst:

You will be surprised to hear this, but I am trying to flip my current project from waterfall to agile. Over the last year, there have been many cycles of planning to meet THE DATE – you know, THE DATE when the skies part, the angels sing, all the flowers bloom at the same time and little birds tweet by. I think the waterfall methodology was great for helping us build the infrastructure and platforms we need to build the product, but the product itself is insanely complicated and essentially a bigger version of a complicated thing that everyone hated the last time we did it.

The more times we miss THE DATE, the shorter the extension we’ve gotten on THE DATE. THE DATE keeps slipping because:

  1. We build a waterfall plan with virtually no slack
  2. We try to do things we’ve never done before, and
  3. Either (a) it blows up in our face or (b) we screw up our infrastructure to try to hit THE DATE and then lose time re-setting everything back to coherent.

The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am.  THE DATE is never reasonable because we’re told what THE DATE is, then told to do a project plan that meets THE DATE.   So, we all dutifully say ‘yes’ then walk out of the room saying, “Well that’s never going to work.” At one point someone was allocated 150% on the project and then was told that of course her vacations and other work was taken into consideration! The Imperial Empire is running the show.

Last couple of weeks, we’ve essentially hit a crisis point. So (being a proud member of the Rebel Alliance) I decided that what we really needed to do was blow the whole conversation open and try to do something completely different. I went straight to the “users” (nameless, faceless masses to the Empire) and said: Hey! This isn’t working. Let’s come up with a MVP and then prioritize the backlog. This confused the heck out of them but had the intended effect of opening up possibilities.

Or so I thought.

It only took five hours for someone in my chain of the Empire to demand THE DATE. Ugh.

Thank you to Peter Johnson for sharing.  Peter teaches the Business Analysis Certificate series at the University of Delaware and other Orion partners.


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