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The Fog of War and Agile System Development April 29, 2012

Posted by Ivor's Window to the IT and CRM World in Microsoft CRM.
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The Fog of War (As seen from an Agile Project Development Perspective)

Prussian military theorist Carl von Klausewitz (1780 -1831) hypothesized thus about the Fog of War in terms of data:

The great uncertainty of all data in war is a peculiar difficulty, because all action must, to a certain extent, be planned in a mere twilight, which in addition not infrequently — like the effect of a fog or moonlight — gives to things exaggerated dimensions and unnatural appearance.)

A very interesting statement considering that it was written around 200 years ago, and the basic tenet of his writings on this subject is that commanders needed to be able to assimilate a large amount of data about fast moving and volatile situations and then often make rapid and important life or death decisions.

Agile project methodology in delivery of IT systems puts managers and other professionals in the same boat, as sometimes decisions need to be made quickly and also in volatile rapidly moving situations. I think however that today we have so much information at out fingertips that it gets even more difficult to view situations as the “exaggerated dimensions” can be right out of the park, and we can’t see the wood for the trees.

I have worked on many projects over the last 25 years and have seen some really bad decisions made in the heat of the moment, with the delivery of a system being managed as if it was a life and death situation, and the bad decisions coming back to haunt project managers and the development teams. Agile implies rapidity and flexibility, however time for considered thought should always be factored into the equation.

So therefore if confronted with a Fog of War situation: Stop, Think, Act (in that order, even if it is for just a few moments).




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