Monday, March 19, 2007

Face To Face Still Matters

Last Friday Esther Derby wrote a blog entry that struck a nerve.

Part of the reason I started this blog is because I see so many people worrying about costs without considering the benefits. Or the means without considering (enough about) the ends.

Esther's entry is "Face to Face Still Matters". And of course it does. Communication and learning take place fact-to-face at such a higher rate than over a phone or at even lower bandwidth.

Communication and learning are what we need more of to make the projects more successful.

So, people who want to consider distributed retrospectives (her particular concern) agree to save a few more costs and lose some big benefits.

Similarly, if we focus only on the cost side of Agile, or of projects more generally, we are short-changing ourselves and our customers. Almost always we (as business owners or customers) care more about the value delivered than the cost.

ACTION: Don't ever let anyone talk about cost-savings without also talking about the effect on value delivery. (It is not necessary a linear or even a direct relationship, but it can be.)



Esther Derby said...

Hi, Joe -

What are some of the ways that you help people quantify not-easy-to-count benefits?


Joe Little said...

Hi Esther,

This question really needs at least a whole post to address. My short answer: usually costs are in $ and seem relatively solid. The benefits often can be put into $. Some people react..."well, I can't estimate benefits precisely, so I can't make a $ to $ comparison". But most business decisions don't require that much precision. If benefits are $1.43 and the costs are $1.42, then you probably can invest your $1.42 better elsewhere... And get roughly $5 for it.

There are of course other things to say on this topic.
Regards, Joe