Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Squeeze or Slice?

When it comes to planning the scope for an iteration, I generally think of two different approaches: squeezing and slicing. So which one are you? Are you a squeezer or a slicer?

The Squeezer

  • Tries to get as much out as possible in each squeeze
  • Some squeezes go "Splllppppppt!" and hardly anything comes out
  • More oozes out after you stop squeezing
  • You don't know how much the bottle holds
  • Even if you may know the bottle is 8oz, you never know for sure how much is left
  • You have to pound the end and squeeze repetitively to get the last little bit out

The Slicer

  • Each slice is more or less the same size
  • You can see exactly how big the loaf is and how many slices are left
  • Only the supernatural keeps the loaf from running out
  • There are just a few crumbs to brush up after the last slice

As you may have guessed, I'm an advocate of the slicing system. The characteristics mentioned above are maybe a little bit euphemistic because in reality, software projects are not factory baked and sliced bread. They're homemade and each slice is cut individually. When you first pull the bread out of the oven, you might ideally want the bread to be sliced into 10 pieces. However, after the first slice or two, you might find that the bread is heavier or lighter than you thought prompting you to make thinner or thicker slices going forward. If you slice off more than you can chew, it's easy to cut that piece in half and save the rest for later. You don't always know how many loaves there will be before you're done baking and slicing but you always have an easily manageable unit.

I like slicing because planning is "baked in". Each iteration isn't like a spin of the roulette wheel. You can respond to experience and adjust accordingly. And you always have a clear vision of what the end is and when it will come.

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