Methodology Discussion (cont’d)

A few days ago I posted up a brief of a discussion that I had over lunch with Joseph Cooney. Darren Neimke pulled me up on one particular comment in that post which my jaded view of methodology discussions. He wanted to know which particular aspects of the discussion I was jaded about. So rather than just reply in the comments I thought I would make a follow up post.

First, let may lay out a scenario, you are sitting in a meeting room with about five people. There customer representatives, project managers, technical leads and maybe even some developers. There are two project managers in this meeting, one manages an overall umbrella project which feeds us some dependencies and the smaller project feeds some back.

The topic of discussion is time and responsibilities. All participants in the meeting have some exposure to the project management disciplines associated with software engineering but it could be argued that none of them are real experts. In theory all participants are familiar a common project management methodology but in reality they are only familiar with some of the nomenclature and even that has been blended with their past experiences.

Unfortunately, because so much of the terminology in the various methodologies overlap the participants believe that they are having a useful exchange and go away feeling like they got what they wanted out of the discussion.

I call this a “methodology protocol error” because instead of exchanging useful information you are trying to get two incompatible abstractions for software engineering management to talk. Its kinda like doing XML-RPC and SOAP interop without an explicit translation step.

Now to answer Darren’s question (which particular part do I get jaded with), I guess the answer is everything. I feel my time is valuable, and in fact I am sure that when my clients see the invoice they will feel the same way – so discussions that abstract away detail when it comes to setting delivery milestones, priorities and roles and responsibilities add little value to what I am trying to achieve – a successful project outcome. I’m jaded because I see this over and over again.

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