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Jan 11

Agile Heresies – Competitive Threats

See here for the start of this series.

Imagine you have a small number of customers, possibly one. And, you have essentially zero competition. That is to say, not only do you not have other organizations offering competitive products, your customers don’t really have effective alternatives other than to work with you.

Even better is if your customer(s) have an incredibly long planning window – years or more.

In that kind of environment, what would agile buy you? There’s no need to respond quickly to changes in the market, because there essentially is no market. There’s no need to move fast, because you have nothing to compare yourself to. There’s no need to risk pissing off the customer with a half-finished project – you’re already at the top, there’s nowhere to go but down.

If I were in charge of such a project, I would potentially find value in pair programming (although I would probably already have a very disciplined review process). But I would absolutely allocate tremendous amounts of time to pre-planning, and getting everything “just so” before writing a single line of code (other than tests and prototypes of new technologies, etc).

Heck, if I worked at a place with essentially no competition, I’d probably look at agile and think ‘what a bunch of reckless speedsters’ I would probably find the whole concept of “keeping up with the competition” both uncomfortable and sub-optimal.

And it would be… if I had no competitors.

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