D is for "D'oh! We should have gone with P!"
I’m too busy right now to do an essay, but I need
to say something about Theory D, Theory P
, and economic interests. Several people have pointed out that Theory D is more attractive to “stake holders” than Theory P. Here are my unvarnished thoughts:
- How you structure a business arrangement is not relevant to how the world works in practice: For example, I can hedge against further devaluing of the U.S. Dollar using various derivative instruments. This does not change the fact that the US Dollar moves against the Canadian Dollar. The “Theories” essay was talking about what people believe, not what they negotiate.
- Regardless of what games you play with commitments and consequences, development teams (including management and stake holders) do not have the authority to bend the laws of space and time. If you press developers to work 90+ hours a week, they make mistakes. If you change the requirements every week but insist that the project stay on schedule, you either get lower total functionality or the team skips QA. As a stake holder, that kind of thing matters to me.
- If you structure a fixed price contract for development specifically because you want the developer to carry the risk, you believe in Theory P. That’s right, you believe it’s probabilistic, that’s why you hedge against disaster by talking the developer into assuming the risk. So it’s more correct to say that some stake holders prefer to structure fixed commitments from developers than it is to say that stake holders believe in Theory D.
- On the flip side, if you agree to a fixed price contract, that doesn’t mean you subscribe to Theory D either. Perhaps you fully embrace the probabilistic nature of projects, but you have done a risk analysis and believe this is a profitable deal, just like someone selling an option on Wall Street.
So there are two issues: what people believe about how projects work, and what deals people negotiate with each other. I believe that the adversarial negotiation games do contribute to fixed schedules, I agree with that. But I think it’s often evidence of stake holders who have embraced Theory P, not the opposite.
Now, if a development team agree to a fixed schedule, make a plan, and then toil according to the plan without acknowledging change, without updating the plan as they go... That’s Theory D in a nutshell.
Now I have to get back to work. Are we good on this? Thanks for listening to me vent.