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The Agile Devil’s Idle Time Law

“That’s a year of my life I will never get back” …

… muttered The Agile Devil as he hung up on the latest daily conference call.

He had come to the conclusion that he had ended up on another “Paint the Forth Bridge” project. He recalled previous projects such as a Desktop Windows refresh programme for a large company. He had just about completed that when he had to start again on the next refresh. Two years that had taken him.  Desktop builds, testing and making sure every last End-User Computing app still worked. The moment it stopped, off he went again.

Once more time around around the hamster wheel he thought. But not this time. He hastily scribbled a resignation letter and set about finding himself a new job.

The Forth Bridge


A few weeks later, The Agile Devil found himself across the desk from his new boss. “The top priority for you right now is to migrate our applications onto new hardware” she told him. This sounded eerily familiar mused The Agile Devil as the intricacies of the project were explained.

The next year was a blur. Countless hours spent on migration without ever quite finishing. DR tests, change requests, load testing, data migration. All the while being aware that there was a high probability of the next wave of migration work kicking off soon after.

Slightly disillusioned, he wandered down to his favourite Soho drinking establishment (famous for Lindebooms), to meet a fellow tech worker friend of his – The Cloud Devil.

“Hey, why the long face?” asked The Cloud Devil as they ordered the first flutes of the evening. And so over a few beers, The Agile Devil explained the reasons for this despondency.

Perk up!

“Perk up”, The Cloud Devil told him as she updated her friend on his latest project. The Cloud Devil had also been working on a migration project, but in his case she had been working in the Cloud. That very day she had seen some capacity problems on her system that lead her to believe she needed additional web-servers. “It took a couple of days to turn around and a lot of that was change management palaver, but once that was done I just had to change a config value and restart a cluster”.

At first The Agile Devil was further downhearted by this tale. He imagined how long it would take him to do the same thing in his current role. Months maybe? But then in a burst of clarity shining through his early-evening beer haze, the following though occurred to him. In a career of twenty years or so, by how much could he condense the timelines of his previous projects IF he had today’s technologies available to him?

The Idler Law

At once it was both an optimistic and demotivating thought. How much quicker could he complete future projects if using the right tools?  And how much more time would that leave him to idle his days away drinking Lindebooms?

This was an interesting thought experiment he pondered, well worth blogging about. He also thought of Moore’s Law (’s_law) to which his idea was in no doubt linked. He decided to term his idea The Agile Devil’s Idler Law and set an utterly anecdotal and unscientific ratio to define the law as follows:

The Agile Devil’s Idler Law:

Every five years the amount of time taken to complete a similar project halves

due to the impact of new tools and technologies.

The Agile Devil thanked his friend, settled the tab and set off for home to start his blog and invite comment.

His final thought that night before watching an episode of Catastrophe was that the rate at which timelines would decrease would be constrained by organisational red tape.

Coda: Halfway through writing this, President Trump signed an order to call time on the Banking Dodd-Frank act. This act has kept many a banking and IT professional busy for many a year. Now many more years will be spent removing it or updating systems with whatever comes next.

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