Wednesday, 9 March 2011

The Human Iron Triangle

The Iron Triangle in software development is an old well known metaphor for explaining many of the hard realities in software project management.

The first version Ive seen was taken from Scot Ambler The "Broken Iron Triangle" Software Development Anti-Pattern looks like this:


Another version I like is Mike Cohn Clock representation:


Recently I came up with my own version mapping the various roles in a typical project, doing it i came up with this:Human Iron trianglepng

I’m still trying to understand what it says but so far i came up with the following insights:

QA Are Trapped

No wonder QA people feel caught up in the middle. That’s exactly where they are. Everyone is pulling on all sides and they are stuck in the middle getting torn apart.

Managers will always win

Management hold the more stable end in the triangle. Resources/budget has a tendency to stay relatively fixed and in practice does not allow for much flexibility. This might explain why management never budge.

R&D will never learn to like marketing

Looking at the triangle its perfectly clear why Product/Marketing and R&D always fight (which i have seen too often ending up in a disaster), both are trying to pull in their own direction and since management never budge you get a direct conflict between the two.

I wonder what else i can learn from this.


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