When President Kennedy committed the US to putting men on the moon by the end of the decade, the 60’s, do you think anyone really know how that goal would be accomplished? Did they understand all of the challenges they might face? Did they wonder how they would get from here (Earth) to there (the Moon)? Did they allow their uncertainty and fears limit their ability to meet the goal? Though it would be a difficult journey, they believed in the mission, trusted each other, had faith in their abilities, and knew they could rise to the occasion and accomplish the goal asked of them.
I find that teams moving from one software development methodology, say Waterfall, to another, say some form of iterative development, is akin to heading up a mission to the moon. There is resistance to reaching for the moon and a strong desire to keep to the comforts of the Earth.
Iterative development has proven its ability to more quickly react to and meet market needs. Like the engineers in the space program, software development teams find the transition to be a difficult journey. It is difficult to try something new when there is such great comfort in the ways of the past. A transition to iterative development will take a willingness to try new things, to make mistakes, and to accept the uncertainty that exists in software development.
As with the mission to the moon, iterative software development is a challenge for many teams but one that focuses on delivery of early value while maintaining focus on the overall goal. An iterative team is focused on meeting today’s needs. Tomorrow’s needs will be here soon enough and will be different than we might expect today. Maintaining focus on today’s objectives will provide the foundation for solving tomorrow’s problems. Plan for the long term, focus on success for the short term, take time to discover, take time to fail, take time to unleash creativity and innovation.
Can we accept the challenge? Can we accept that change is uncomfortable? Can we trust in ourselves and each other? Can we rise to the occasion and shoot for the moon?
Photo by Mike Baird