Thursday, December 2, 2010

More Open Source and More Agile News

ComputerWorld, November 22, 2010, has this: "Open Source Grows Up". The news of the weird is "It's clear that open-source software has moved beyond the zealotry phase." I wasn't aware this phase existed. I hope to see the project plan with "zealotry" in it.

The real news is "More than two-thirds (69%) of the respondents said they expect to increase their investments in open source." That's cool.

Be sure to read the sidebar "Many Enterprises Aren't Giving Back." There's still a lot of concern over intellectual property. I've seen a lot of corporate software -- it's not that good. Most companies that are wringing their hands over losing control of their trade secrets should really be wringing their hands because their in-house software won't measure up to open-source standards.

I like this other quote: 'Five years ago, the South Carolina government was "considering writing a policy to prohibit or at least 'control' open source".' I like the "Must Control Open Source" feeling that IT leadership has. Without this mysterious "control", the organization could be swamped by software it didn't write. How's that different from being swamped by software products that involve contracts and fees? And requires Patch Tuesday?

Agility

SD Times has two articles on Agile methods. Both on the front page of a print publication. That's how you know the technique has "arrived".

First, there's "VersionOne survey finds agile knowledge and use on the rise". My favorite quote: "Interestingly, management support, the ability to change organizational culture and general resistance to change, remained at the forefronts of participants’ minds when indicating barriers to further agile adoption." I like the management barriers. I like it when management tries to exert more 'control' over a process (like software creation) that's so poorly understood.

Here's the companion piece, "For agile success, leaders must let teams loose". This is all good advice. Particularly, this: '"It’s hard to not command and control, but leadership is not about managing work. It’s about creating a capable organization that can manage work," [Rick Simmons] added.'

If you're micro-managing, you're not building an organization. Excellent advice. However, tell that to the financial control crowd.

Budgets and "Control"

Finally, be sure to read this by Frank Hayes in ComputerWorld: "Big Projects, Done Small". Here are the relevant quotes: "The logical conclusion: We should break up all IT projects into sub-million-dollar pieces." "The political reality: Everybody wants multimillion-dollar behemoths." "...huge projects get big political support."

In short, Agile is the right thing to do until you're trying to get approval. Bottom line: use Agile methods. But for purposes of pandering to executives who want to see large numbers with lots of zeroes, it's often necessary to write giant project "plans" that you don't actually use.

Go ahead, write waterfall plans. Don't feel guilty or conflicted. Some folks won't catch up with Agility because they think "Control" is better. Pander to them. It's okay.