11 June 2008

Scrum, Plans, Slack and Contracts (via Wegner's Lemma)

Today I have a question for Josh Milane, author of the MIT Technical blog.


(I wish I could post comments to your blog. I really do. Somehow I have to log in and my existing wordpress account won’t do the job… I guess we have to communicate the old fashioned way; via trackbacks and RSS feeds.)


Thanks for another interesting post on your always entertaining blog. I did have better things to do, you know than start browsing Wikipedia and associated links and learn more about maths and philosophy. No bad thing usually, but I have deadlines I am supposed to be focusing on.

Anyway, some comments for you.

I agree with you that slack, while a very useful thing on software projects has a significant brand problem. So do synonyms like contingency which says ‘we aren’t sure, even though we are experts.’

What can we do about managing uncertainty beyond padding a schedule and budget with slack time? Call upon Wegner’s lemma I hear you say.

But that creates its own challenges which you only partly address in your post. Sure, of course you want a collaborative approach with your development partners, but often the client wants certainty, and is driven not by the desire to do best, but by a fear of doing badly.

(You might find a recent article by our blogger friend Bas de Baar interesting. It addresses this last point at in his recent post about reputations.)

Is your model of contracting systems simply a new term for time and materials (aka ‘cost plus’) contracts?

As always, a pleasure to read your informative blog.

Regards always

Picture care of Daniel Guip and
Creative Commons at Flickr


  1. Craig,

    I am just seeing this now. I am sorry. Months later, I am sure you hardly care, but I will respond as if you care.

    1. I actually think that slack makes slackers, to be totally honest, and in most teams ;)

    2. You can deliver hard estimates as long as they are estimates and controlled. I think that works for most Clients.

    3. Time and Materials can be open-ended. I suggest a "framed" approach.

    Love your blog, Craig. Thank you for reading mine. It has been a bit goofy lately but ah well, such is life :)


    - Also, you should be able to comment now. I had to disable that at one point because of a WP vulnerability. Fixed.

  2. hey there - thanks for getting back to me.

    Slack maeks slackers... Have you seen or read about the appraoch where there are two schedules- one for the client and one ofr the team? Shameful I know!

    And tell me more about your framed models?