Trade-offs: The killer cost of certainty

What is it that stops companies from really making the expected improvements in cycle time and delivery speed that Agile promises?

This article – published on Info Q – examines a new trade-offs model. Designed to help you pick the right trade-off between speed, cost and risk, it also reveals something that companies find so hard to give up that it sabotages their success. This article reveals the true cost of certainty – or as we prefer to say – ‘the illusion of certainty’.

The necessity of trade-offs

When an athlete chooses a goal – explosive power, for example – everything from diet to training is designed to build the kind of physique and performance that will enhance it.

Businesses could learn two very important lessons from runners.

1. Don’t confuse the goal with the method

A sprinter is trying to run fast. Although doing this results in the build up of heavy muscle, by itself, this is not the goal. In business, you are trying to deliver a project fast, not ‘do Scrum’.

2. Understand and accept trade-offs

Sprinters are not very good at long-distance running. Because they have built up lots of fast-twitch muscle for explosive power, they lack the slow-twitch fibres that enable endurance. Their very success in one type of sport means lower-than-average performance in another. Companies who embrace one goal, may have to give up something else. They can find this so painful that they refuse to do it. But refusing to make the trade-off often means they don’t achieve the desired goal.

The faster delivery model

The faster delivery model has been developed by Emergn to examine four different flow choices for software development. The choice depends on the goal, and then – just like for the athletes – this choice dictates the kinds of tools we need to use.

Read the full article – including a description of the flow choices, their benefits and when best to use them – here.

Related content