Aim Small, Miss Small

There is an educational and buoyant if perhaps less jovial scene in one of the most stirring feel-good movies of all times, the 2000 film The Patriot, starring Mel Gibson and the late Heath Ledger (incidentally, an ideal choice for a Valentine’s Day home screening, in my case, however, only by unilateral demand and decree). The movie’s protagonist, Benjamin Martin (Gibson) is swept into the American Revolutionary War when his family is threatened and generally abused by the ruthless Green Dragoons cavalry. It deals with such important themes as single parenting, nation building, and uniting a ragtag South Carolina militia against mighty Lord Cornwallis in the face of indiscriminate carnage and cold blooded atrocities committed by the British. As such it marks Mr. Gibson’s second and most satisfying (and, no doubt here, historically correct) epic “blood libel against the English” war film. Not to be missed but back to the all-important ambush scene.

When teaching his eight-year-old how to shoot a muzzle-loading rifle in order to ambush a British column in the woods, Martin/Gibson admonishes “aim small, miss small,” meaning that if you aim at a man and miss, you miss the man, while if you aim at his button and miss, you still hit the man. As a piece of fatherly-cum-partisan advice not only useful, we shall see, when slaying foreign oppressors and Crown-loyalists in the swamps of 18th Century South Carolina.

“Aim small, miss small,” is in fact also the maxim, if not the credo of the CIO of a Fortune 500 company whom I’ve recently interviewed and whose firm has now implemented 20+ projects using Agile – and that under the governance of the PMO. Some of the key drivers in Agile software development, in the experience of this CIO, work best – or only work at all – when tackled in very small “shots”; these are:

  • Task planning;
  • Effort estimation;
  • Task adherence; and
  • Performance (self) assessment.

For him “aiming at the button” means rather than “big shots” (read the IT leadership team) deciding on the risk management approach, with Agile the development team is asked in real time how to mitigate the risk. Since risk management is embedded in the Agile framework, Agile teams are typically more efficient at identifying and managing risks.

And here the “Agile PMO” fills an important role – as an Agile educator and arbiter that can balance the business needs with the level of compliance in order to eliminate any waste. The PMO collects retrospective information from Agile teams in order to perform root-cause analysis or even run Six Sigma DMAIC. The PMO is also in charge of standardizing the Agile metrics at the organizational level. Then the PMO can statistically determine the organizational burn-down rate or velocity.

Advertisements

About Christophe Kolb
Christophe Kolb is Executive Chairman and co-founder of Talent Trust. Headquartered in San Francisco, Talent Trust employs mobile experts at our own development centers in Córdoba, Argentina and Lima, Peru. Our talented people are seasoned technologists with solid backgrounds in software engineering and cutting-edge skills in mobile web / HTML5, Android, iPhone / iPad, and BlackBerry. We have the technical expertise, industry knowledge, and proven capability to deliver winning mobile solutions, and have done so for some of the world’s greatest companies. Our mission is to help our enterprise clients win in mobility, with: • Captive development centers in Córdoba, Argentina and Lima, Peru • Same time zone advantage for U.S. clients, enabling real time communication • Cost-effective offshore development solutions for mobile • Focus on mobile for enterprise clients • 10-year track record of successfully servicing a blue-chip client base in predominantly multi-year relations • Agile development methodology (Scrum and Kanban) • Close collaboration with clients / Product Owners (daily stand-up meetings) • Excellent English communication skills

One Response to Aim Small, Miss Small

  1. mark keyworth says:

    Agree with the maxim as the aim small approach implies focus. This is in sharp contrast to the all to familiar peanut butter approach which is sometimes confused for substance verus veneer. The question to ask is why do requirments actually need to be in flux? Why can’t focused discipline apply to the enitre partner ecosytsem including the business and their requirements? I would recommend getting something of percevied value into the hands of customers in order to obtain guiding feedback, measure and then re-start the process. Constantly changing requirements is fraught with risks – project canceled because of time to market issues, change in company priorities or the anecdotal injection of extraneous requirements that dilute the original objective. Bottom line “aim small” may be the tonic for patriots, parents, business and IT if applied equitably.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: