Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

Project Change, a Way of Life

May 26, 2008

I just read  Project Change, a Way of Life by Jurgen Appelo ( – ~2mb) and I thought it was worth the read. His goal was to “link complexity science with agile software development”. He starts with change is the only constant which leads to the iron triangle. For some reason he puts the attributes on the apexes and not the sides (I think this hides the most important aspect of the iron traingle, but it’s his article).

Next he goes on a diatribe on the term “project” and decides a better term is “product” (which is the goal of most software projects – sorry I just couldn’t help myself). He then gets to an interesitng discussion on success which leads him to this:

I believe that every software product is a success, until it fails. 

I think its a good way of looking at it. He talks alot about his car…he is young after all. He uses the term fitness from biology. Fitness is a relative term about how well a species survives in their environment. I like that: a product’s fitness is the same thing. Take a product out of it’s environment and it could do better or worse. Put other products in it’s environment and it might be more or less usefull.

He calls the game of improve or die the Red Queen Race from Through the Looking Glass. Products change to keep up with the competition or they are no longer used and die. Your nice document management system will lose to a package that costs money once the feature difference is worth the cost.

He then goes into Fitness Landscapes, which a neat idea, but I don’t see a strong correlation with software products. I disagree that people can do “conscious selection” well and natural selection is not well characterized as being random. Now I am just nitpicking. Like I said in the beginning, I think this aritcle is worth the time it took me to read 28 pages.