I am nearsighted- have been to one degree or another since I was a teenager. All I’ve ever thought of this term was as a defect in vision.
More recently, I had a take on the term that was slightly out of the norm- corporate approach to strategy. Case in point: Global Chain, neighborhood coffeehouse. I recently stumbled into my coffeehouse of choice, and ordered up my usual. The barista, much to my surprise, asked me if I would be ‘okay’ if they used a different type of coffee. After pondering this most important of decisions, I decided to challenge the point. When asked, the barista responded, “The grinder is broken, and a repair guy is coming out today, so we are pulling [already ground] coffee off the shelf to satisfy our orders.”
The following week, the coffeehouse was still pulling coffee off the shelf. I asked about the repair to the grinder, to which the barista divulged the following:
- $600 grinder to replace
- $6 screw to fix existing grinder
- $15/bag (cost offset), to utilize shelved stock in lieu of grinding beans
- 3 bags per day
In the end, it took 6 weeks to get the grinder fixed. Doing simple math…
- ($3 * 15) = Daily cost of not addressing the problem. (not much, right?)
- (Daily Cost * 42 Days) = Total Cost incurred (that’s gonna sting!)
- Yes, that’s right- $1,890, to wait for a $6 screw…
In hindsight, it would be easy to say, “Gosh, we should have just put a new grinder on-site, and taken the broken one back for repair”. The Barista knew how much this was costing on day 2 of this adventure, AND conveyed it to his superiors.
Now, I’m not saying that making coffee and making software are the same thing- but I’m not not saying that either. There is a process. There is management. There are the folks that are in the trenches everyday, slugging through that process, with oversight from their management. And, there are customers who depend on all of the above for a product.
Nice story, but cut to the chase- right? Fine. There are times when management doesn’t see the whole picture, much like when you are getting agile methods off the ground for the first time at your company, or at a new client, if that’s your thing. It is your duty as an agile coach to caution your boss, client, team, etc. that change is hard, and that (not to sound cliché) it’s going to get worse, before it gets better.
Remember, Agile isn’t going to solve your problems- it will expose them!
Is it time for a coffee?