From Tsunami Development to Continuous Lean and Agile Development

Four Views of Mount Fuji

representing complexity flattens across the project. Complexity can be evaluated by the permitted maximum source file size for the system, the permitted maximum Cyclomatic complexity of any function or method and the like.


Figure 4 - Biting the Bullet

At the beginning, stakeholders and team leaders make a deliberate and principled decision to allocate time towards the end of the iteration before accepting the development of new features. The idea is to instill the right values into the team – that quality is not negotiable and everyone is responsible for quality. When this gradually becomes a habit, team members will check and fix their work every week, then daily and then instantly until it is second nature to them. So, the flattening of the green line towards the end of the iteration will become shorter and shorter until it eventually disappears. When this happens – voila! They achieve the continuous development model!

6. Ascending Mount Fuji

Achieving the ideal iterative model is not easy. It is hard work. My coaching engagement requires me to be in Japan and everyone here knows about Mount Fuji. Mount Fuji is a majestic mountain which is visible from the skies as you approach Tokyo. The reason why I bring up Mount Fuji is that there is a series of famous paintings by the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849). He created the master piece – “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (??????, Fugaku Sanj?rokkei). The first four views bear an uncanny resemblance to the four diagrams depicted earlier. When I have something more than just a white board, I can use the first four views in my presentation slides. I show these four views below in order.



The Great Wave off Kanagawa

?????? – Kanagawa oki nami-ura

This represents the big wave of tsunami development (see Figure 1 ), a very risky way of development


South Wind, Clear Sky

???? – Gaif? kaisei

This clear sunny sky represents the ideal, which we want to be eventually. The ideal is continuous iterative development (see Figure 2 ).


Rainstorm Beneath the Summit

???? – Sanka hak?

This represents the stormy reality (see Figure 3 ), the challenges (the rainstorms) which the team faces as they make their transition to agile development. Very often the team see the storm and lose sight of the ideal.


Under Mannen Bridge at Fukagawa

?????? – Fukagawa Mannen-bashi shita

The phrase ?? (Mannen) means ten thousand years. Yes, the team needs to allocate time and resources to fix the bugs and issues by the end of each iteration and cultivate the habit of ensuring quality first. This is grueling transition depicted in Figure 4 .

I have used the four diagrams above to help teams big and small understand where they are in iterative development and help them to understand how to get to where they can progress towards the ideal continuous development model. The diagrams appeal to the logical brain, the views of Mount Fuji appeals to the culture. Moving to agile is a change of mindset and we attempt all angles. They instantly get it. They face up to the reality. Some understood the challenges and honestly remain status quo. At least, they are honest. Others understood the challenges and press forward. And we are there to help them

About the Author

Pan-Wei Ng, Ph.D. is a firm believer in a lean and agile development. He strives to improve quality and reduce waste. Dr Ng helps companies in Asia adopt and scale lean and iterative development and other practices. He believes in practicality and leadership by example. In fact, he

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