A lot has change since I've gone pro in software development, one could say at least one era has passed since then, but some things never change - one of them is Enterprises loving Fuckin' Big Projects (FBP), dinosaurs of XX/XXI century. In defiance to the common sense ...
Enterprises love FBPs because:
- big things tend to grab attention of big stakeholders, so yeah - politics
- in Enterprise, it's freaking hard to get valuable experts on-board due to their day-to-day duties - big project has got much higher chances as it may spawn some sort of new unit / entity within organization structure
- long-term planning & budgeting in Enterprises sucks big-time; if you come up with a great idea that doesn't require much effort, you end-up in a mixed, endless backlog of shit that will never happen; to grab some attention (& increase chances for anything happening) you need to "get some fat"
- Enterprises suck in short-feedback loops & validated learning. Even if you'll manage to execute "an experiment", you never know when next iteration will happen - maybe next year, maybe later ... That's why big projects are the only hope for a meaningful change & a significant leap for organization
- Enterprises are highly hierarchical - in many cases huge success in smaller scale (e.g. in terms of final effect to cost ratio) means nothing when confronted with no success endeavor of a massive scale
So, FBPs keep happening ...
- delivered by the army of people (assembled hastily with a high degree of randomness) who care mainly about short-term "project-scoped" targets, while not giving a fuck to long-term "product-scoped" characteristics like maintainability or technical debt
- validation of business result happens either not at all or at the very end, when there's far too late for any adjustment
- delivery efficiency drops down miserably - long-term planning, multi-level governence, formalities, policies - every tiniest thing becomes a big deal
- complexity skyrockets, new dependencies appear here & there, communication paths multiply & bloat - overall efficiency prostrates ...
- ... while whole organization suffers in the mean-time -> other initiatives may get frozen, postponed until an unspecified date
But one just can't help wondering, what would happen if ...
- organization made an effort to define "products" (in terms of IT services / IT-aided processes) aligned with value streams (the way organization creates value / earns money)
- project-based development was replaced with long-term product development; by fixed, stable, cross-discipline teams
- budgeting was pool-based, split between pools determined by products current state, future potential & overall company strategy
- effects evaluation was based on raw facts, objective metrics determined initially, well understood & accepted by participants
A huge planet-scale cataclysm had to happen to wipe the dinosaurs off, but no meteor will help us get rid of FBPs. The only hope is in small, but shiny, falling stars of emerging, disruptive businesses. Start-ups - who, due to innovation, open-minded thinking, operational agility & insatiate hunger for success can beat gradually, step-by-step get rusty Enterprise out of their business.