Gymnastic Wrestling

March 17, 2011

Like half the nation, we have been debating for which London Olympic event we should seek tickets. Should we mortgage the house and sell our souls to the devil so as to raise funds for the 100 metre final or settle for the more obscure events which are more easily affordable? I hear the beach Graeco-Roman sack race heats are likely to be undersubscribed. Talking to our friends and neighbours over a drink-fuelled supper last night helped clarify matters. Apparently, if you buy tickets for the 100 metres final that is all you see – you are removed from the stadium by crane or with some sort of jack-in-the-box device seconds after the victory lap is completed. (I am sure my neighbours are entirely reliable sources of information in this area as they did once baby-sit Zara Phillips, so they are just two steps away from being members of the IOC.) This led on to a conversation about how to add value to the Olympic experience by packing rather more into each event and, after discarding plans for combining cycling pursuit with archery and wavering over the steeplechase judo, we came up with gymnastic wrestling – basically a standard Hollywood fight scene, but in leotards and with points for artistic impression.

Imagine my surprise this morning on discovering that SCL HQ has got there first by combining a breath-taking display of agile and lean with the rough and tumble of debate – it sounds like an intellectualised form of gymnastic wrestling to me. On 6 April, there is a seminar on the {agile and lean methodologies:} with leading lights on the subject contributing such as Susan Atkinson and Gabrielle Benefield (SCL members can see their recent article {here:}). I cannot guarantee that either will be wearing leotards, or waving long scarves rhythmically as they speak, but I can be sure that both will put their points with grace and precision.

The extra relish with which I view the event arises from a string of comments on the SCL site, mainly in response to the blog post from Clive Davies entitled the {Xmas Development Contract Challenge:}. Among those commenting is SCL Fellow Richard Stephens who suggested that ‘{i}2010 really saw the trouncing of agile – it was fascinating to look at the judgments in BskyB and de Beers v Atos and see how both projects tried to use agile and both of course ended as failed projects{/i}’.

Richard joins the panel for the final session of the seminar and, while actual wrestling is unlikely (sadly it is discouraged at SCL events), I expect there to be a lively debate and some savage eye-rolling at the very least.

I am not sure that you will see a clear winner though – unless you count those attending who come away with a better understanding of the relevant project management methodologies and their limits. Since the clear lesson of the De Beers v Atos case seems to me to be not the failure of a system for project management in IT but the failure of project teams {i}to understand{/i} project management methods properly, any increase in understanding is to be welcomed. But increased understanding among lawyers is vital. I strongly suspect that the general failure of lawyers to grasp even the basics of the alternative methods available undermines any tendency for those involved in the contracts to consult them at the stage when good legal advice could make the difference between success and failure. Why go and ask a man who doesn’t understand what is involved? One blank look at the mention of agile and lean, or a pretended grasp of scrum principles, and all respect can be lost. Those lawyers who fail to improve their knowledge in this area condemn themselves to a peripheral role. At best, they will always be carrying out post-mortems rather than giving life-saving treatment at an earlier stage; at worst, they will simply be ignored.