· software-development

Our obsession with efficiency - Dan North

Oredev have put some of the videos from the conference on Vimeo and one of my favourites is ‘Our obsession with efficiency’ by my colleague Dan North.

The slides for the talk are available on SlideShare.

In this talk Dan leads from the following statement about efficiency:

In lean terms we want to look to favour the big picture over local optimisations whereby we start to measure our effectiveness rather than efficiency. i.e. we focus on the results rather than the effort.

Pair programming is not an efficient way to get the most code produced - we can do that much more efficiently if we have people working individually. However it allows us to create a much greater shared understanding of the code, reduce the defects and increase the cohesion of that code which is a more important goal overall. The same can be said for something like set based concurrent engineering where we work on two solutions simultaneously and then throw one away. It’s inefficient but we can delay potentially making the wrong decision so it makes sense to do it.

For example if our goal is to have all the tests passing by the end of the month then we may be tempted to comment out failing tests to achieve this. One which I notice quite frequently is aiming for a story point total which tends to result in reduced communication between business and IT and we end up delivering features that may not have that much value. It might seem to be locally efficient but in the grand scheme of things it’s not efficient at all.

There’s loads more - it’s a very good talk - but these are some of the bits that stand out for me.

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