Ok you may ask “how is this an anti-pattern? it sounds more like a symptom”.

I would argue that it is both a symptom and a cause and that it really doesn’t matter. It is a symptom because we get long lead-times from of the practices and processes we use. It is a cause because today we have the knowledge, technology and experience to greatly reduce the lead-times. In other words the length of lead-time is a matter of choice.

Traditional development processes, steering-models and organization is by definition working against short lead-times. Much of the delay is created in the handovers between requirements, development, test and production.

Some consequences we almost always see in traditional organizations which are related to long lead-times are:

  • Difficulty in planning
  • Highly risky deliveries
  • Poor quality
  • Very large cost to make sure quality is good
  • Cleanup months after delivery
  • Unhappy customers
  • High employee costs
  • Employee burnout

Naturally we may have more or less “debt” in the organization which are preventing us from instantly reducing the lead-times. There are on the other hand many examples of organizations which have reduced lead-time greatly (and also reduced the mentioned consequences) by just working in another way.

So what is a good first step? Having the management team look into DevOps and Continuous Delivery is great. You don’t need to understand every technical detail about it but getting a basic understanding and then focus the whole organization on reducing lead-times can be very effective.

As I mentioned short lead-times is a choice, for some perhaps a long term goal. We have learnt that in traditional organizations this choice must be made at the very top of the organization. There is often a lot of competence and ideas just waiting to be used in the organization, so expect a need for good change and technical leadership once the choice has been made.

Other Anti-Patterns

Emil Vikström

Copyright © 2014 Emil Vikström. All Rights Reserved.

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