How to Catch a Monkey

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Companies in the twenty-first century need to change how they view software. If your firm has a software product, you need to shift from a plan-driven approach to an approach that predictably delivers value to production.

Even if you do not have a software product, I argue that you are actually a software company. The days of information technology only being a cost center are over. Nowadays, software is so infused into every company that all businesses are, in fact, software companies.

Firms that do not think this way are at risk of being overtaken by their competition or losing software engineers to firms who do think in this manner.

If you are a software engineer who is resisting a cross-functional view of software delivery and does not embrace behaving in a self-organizing manner, your career is at risk.

This Agile delivery model requires us to think in a different manner and let go of the way we used to deliver software. The method for catching a monkey is a fable that drives this point home.

If you want to catch a monkey, get a jar with a narrow neck just wide enough for the monkey to reach into. Place rocks in the bottom of the jar so the jar is too heavy for the monkey to lift.

Place treats around the jar as well as inside the jar. The monkey will find the treats outside the jar and eat them. He will then see the treats inside the jar and reach in to get them and grab a handful.

The neck is too narrow for the monkey’s clenched hand to come out of. He wants the treats, so he does not let go of them. The jar is too heavy for the monkey to move, so all you have to do to catch the monkey is to walk up to him and pick him up.

Don’t be the monkey. Let go of the old way you are doing things and embrace the Agile software delivery model.