One Methodology Per Project

Alistair Cockburn idea of recognizing that different Projects have different constraints, and therefore each needs it own methodology/process.

The main result is that there are necessarily multiple methodologies. They sort along two essential dimensions: staff size and system criticality (of course they sort along more dimensions, but these two serve very well in the initial sort). There are easily several dozen distinguishably different points in this space. Within the size/criticality space, the designers of the methodology select a scope of concerns they care to address: which project roles, activities, deliverables, and standards to cover and which to leave out. They then work from their beliefs, previous experiences, fears, wishes, and philosophical principles, attempting to optimize some quality of the project.

That paper includes the matrix he uses to define the Crystal family of methodologies, based on number of team members (1-6, 7-20, 21-40, etc.) and Criticality (level of Project Failure cost (loss of Comfort, Discretionary money, Essential money, or Life)). (There's another dimension based on whether the project is prioritized on Time To Market, cost reduction, exploration, or legal liability: but I'm not clear on how relevant that is.) In general, Crystal Clear covers the size=6 (Two-Pizza Team) plane (leaving out Essential-money situations since he finds that combination of dimensions unworkable), Crystal Yellow the 20, Crystal Orange the 40, and Crystal Red the 80. His book Agile Software Development documents Crystal Clear, Crystal Orange (with reference to the "Winifred" project documents in his earlier Surviving Object Oriented Projects book), and Crystal Orange Web.

  • you can see the matrix here
  • hmm this isn't making sense to me, as colors are based purely on the team-size dimension: As the criticality of a project increases (moves from the bottom to the top of the diagram), aspects of the methodology need to be put in place to accommodate the additional requirements, including the artifacts generated by the team; however Criticality does not affect the color of Crystal used.
  • also, I need to review these writings, because my first question would be: can you turn a 32-person team into 4 Two-Pizza Teams?

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