In a future world with increased urbanisation, huge disruption due to climate change, a series of ‘judges’ double as police, jury, judge and executioner to make immediate decisions on crimes and conduct immediate remediation up to and not limited to instant execution with a range of exotic weaponry. They are supported by an huge AI engine with all information on each individual delivered through a Google glass type device which supports the ultimate decision. An ethereal Siri type voice provides the information direct to Judge Dredd who then makes the decision.
Now, it might seem like a leap but this is basically the perfect description of good Agile management (without the executions). Here’s why;
With the risk of being controversial, Agile is increasingly the de facto project delivery approach but it is commonly poorly delivered or is morphed into a hybrid which doesn’t help anyone. It all sounds so good to start with; flexible and quick delivery of outputs, visible and engaging, easy to see progress and all you need are two core principles;
1) that you don’t know exactly what you are going to get at the end and 2) You have to have the ability to make quick decisions of some importance.
This is where the cunning plan can fall down, the client needs some clarity of the outcome and some decisions are delayed to get the right group. It is very quick to end up with a series of small waterfalls against a big project plan. A simple test for your project is to count how many people are in the PMO or PM team and to have a quick look at your project plan. From a consultant’s perspective, you can be in the position where the length of a Sprint creates a hugely increased level of bureaucracy and actually restricts the ability to be flexible because you are constantly defending small changes or delays. Most of us never work harder than on Agile projects and you know what; it’s not always the consultants fault.
In the comic, Judge Dredd came about because of the slow speed of the decision making process in ‘Megacity One’ to deliver justice. Decisions were stacking up, cases were overwhelming the Steering Group (Megacity Courts) and nothing was getting done. So, they armed the Judges with authority to make decisions immediately, stuffed them full of information available and put in some checks to measure their performance. Judge Dredd even went around with a deputy who provided an ongoing psychology summary e.g. the voice of the customer embedded right there in the decision process.
It’s time then to apply some Judge Dredd to the corporate Agile process as part of the governance. Each member of an overall program steering group could be nominated as a Judge. Each are armed with a Judge’s visor (or an iPad would probably do) loaded with all the decisions, strategies, an overall Judge Yammer group and any project document. They are supported by a Deputy Judge who represents the customer (they too could get a cool uniform). Decisions are made in the moment and are recorded into the central store. You could even use the Judge Dredd story to explain the process for Agile and actually build it into the project lexicon. I’d love to go to a Sprint start-up, close-down when dramatic music herald the feared arrival of the ‘Judge’.
What’s even more important is to consider the impact of Agile on overall project delivery. The biggest change in IT project delivery in the past decade has been the reduction in the time from idea to execution. My first project as a grad was a 3 year ERP implementation (in fairness, it was meant to be 2 years) but a typical cycle now can be 16 or 20 weeks. Back then when things were more customised and bespoke, you still spent half the money on the change and business piece. Now you are talking about an even bigger change for people in a hugely reduced time period.
So you have to be quicker, more visible and more direct. Send for the Judge.