Rants, rambles, news and notes from another geek

Agile Construction

Steve Eichert shares a story that sounds familiar:

When she started her basement project she had no idea what she wanted.├é She knew she wanted a finished basement but she didn’t know any of the details.├é When Sonny (the contractor) asked her to tell him what she wanted she didn’t know what to say.├é Rather then try and force my mom into a strict plan Sonny decided to start with the most important aspects of the basement, walls!├é As he finished each stage, he would come back to my mom (and dad) and ask them what was next.├é A couple of times Sonny would finish something, but would then tear it down and do it another way based on the feedback he received from my parents.├é Had the project been done differently this would not have been possible.├é The incremental construction allowed my Mom and Dad to take a step back if they didn’t like something, and it also allowed them to put off some of the details they weren’t ready to think about.├é In the end they probably spent a little bit more money, but, they were a LOT more happy.

The reason this sounds so familiar is that this same thing happened to me and my wife. Granted I was the contractor and she was the customer, but the process was the same. At first she knew she wanted a bedroom in the basement. She didn’t really know how she wanted the hall layed out, where she wanted the doors or closets, etc. So I drew some chaulk lines on the floor and got her to talk about how it felt. Then I framed in the walls. During the framing we realized that one of the doors wasn’t in a very efficient place, so we moved it. After the framing was done and the drywall was about halfway up, we realized that we should put a coat closet in. So down came a small chunk of the framing, in went a new pocket door and a closet was added.

This kind of thing is the essence of agile project management.

BTW, I don’t know if I already mentioned it here, but you should read Lean Development and the Predictability Paradox by Mary Poppendieck.