StrategyMay 22, 2012

Agile Fortune Telling

Brad Buhl

It may sound obvious, but predicting the future is usually more accurate the less far out you have to predict. Today Justin Bell spoke at an Agile event and broke it down in terms of March Madness bracket picks.

“Do you think your bracket would have turned out better if you could have used Agile instead of Waterfall?” Justin asked. Let’s look at the odds.

Picking 1 team out of 64 to win a basketball tournament across 7 stages given a 50/50 chance at each stage results in a .78125% chance of getting the winner right. Picking every bracket as other studies show gives you, according to one analyst, a better chance of being killed by a waterspout.

But, if you were able to pick after each stage, not only would you have a 50% chance of picking the winner, you’d also have a 50% shot at every stage. If you conduct research and analysis after each stage based on fresh information, the fortune telling capabilities increase significantly greater in your favor.

Again quoting Justin, “You don’t get every pick right, but Agile allows you to get a better, more predictable outcome.”  And yes, through principles of transparent communication, iterative development and continuous feedback, software development can also be predicted more accurately and less dramatically than the traditional fortune telling process.

So, how about it? Are you ready for more predictable outcomes?