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Possibly The Worst Ever

“It is wrong to suppose that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it – a costly myth” – W. E. Deming

“You can only measure 3% of what matters.” – W. E. Deming

Even though he’s more metrics-obsessed than I’d prefer, in general I’ve been a fan of Capers Jones‘s contributions to the software development industry. In his interesting InfoQ article, “Evaluating Agile and Scrum with Other Software Methodologies“, Capers defines, as one of his methodology candidates, possibly the worst software methodology ever conceived:

CMMI 1 with waterfall: The Capability Maturity Model Integrated™ (CMMI) of the Software Engineering Institute is a well-known method for evaluating the sophistication of software development. CMMI 1 is the bottom initial level of the 5 CMMI levels and implies fairly chaotic development. The term “waterfall” refers to traditional software practices of sequential development starting with requirements and not doing the next step until the current step is finished. – Capers Jones

I shouldn’t laugh, but LOL! In the “beginning“, virtually all software projects were managed in accordance with the “Chaos + Waterfall” methodology. Even with all the progress to date, I’d speculate that many projects unwittingly still adhere to it. Gee, I wonder how many of these clunkers are lurching forward under the guise of being promoted as “agile“.

Moving on to the scholarly guts of Mr. Jones’ article, he compares 10 of his personally defined methodologies in terms of several of his personally defined speed, quality, and economic metrics. He also uses his personal, proprietary models/equations/assumptions to calculate apparently objective results for evaluation by executive decision-makers.

I’m not going to discuss or debate the results of Capers’ comparisons because that’s not why I wrote this post. I wrote this post because personally, I don’t think personal and objective mix well together in efforts like these. There’s nothing wrong with smart people generating impressive numeric results that appear objective but are based on hidden/unknown personal assumptions and mental models. However, be leery of any and every numeric result that any expert presents to you.


To delve more deeply into the “expert delusion“, try reading “Proofiness: How You’re Being Fooled by the Numbers” or any of Nassim Taleb‘s books.

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