Alice Down the Value Stream

Disclaimer This blog is not neutral; its the reflection of a software engineer on years of software projects as a developer, project manager and sometimes sales person.

Its my attempt to project Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland on my daily experiences dealing with different software projects. In doing so, I’ve borrowed lines, scenes and characters from the novel, and I do not claim any ownership or copyright to those.

Some portions are deliberately exagerated for comical purposes

Down the hole

Its hard not to notice how similar is software projects management to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; if you look close enough its full of mythical creatures, mystical worlds and reality bending logic.

Its a mad tea party!

Congratulations Alice! You are cordially invited to a new project.

Mad Hares, Mad Hatters, Cheshire Cats, Dormouse and you poor Alice, its all a mad tea party!

You take your place on a long table, listening to the bickering and wallowing of the guests, to your left is the Hare, people call him mad, he wears a nifty vest with a ragged suite on top, a chain drops from his top left vest pocket and it disappears into his lower right pocket where its attached to a fancy pocket watch.

The Hare keeps looking at his watch, always mumbling Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!, the same words already lured you down his rabbit hole and here you are.

At the top of the table sits the Hatter, like his friend, people call him mad, and you get to see that first hand!

Always switching seats, the Hatter asks unanswerable riddles and blabbers nonsensical remarks; “Sure, we can build that space shuttle tomorrow”, “Guess how many users the Queen wants to serve on launch and design a system that can take it”, “This feature is critical, in fact all of the features are critical” or “You need two months to build that? Ok lets build this bigger thing in one month, the Queen demands it”.

Finally, the tired Dormouse, you don’t know much about him, he looks tired, he looks like he has been at this party for way too long, and he is always falling asleep, only to wake up violently by the Hare and Hatter.

Hatter always claims you have all the time in the world, after all its always tea time!

Escaping the madness

At the party you think of the peculiar cat, a Cheshire Cat you’ve met on your way to the party, and your chat together was intriguing and amusing.

You can’t wait to go look for Cheshire Cat, so you leave the madness behind and enter the garden of the Queen, you come upon three of the Queen’s cards, they are painting white roses blue, the Queen thinks white doesn’t really go with anything.

You watch as Queen and Hare enter the garden, you meet the Queen, a difficult figure to please. You are invited to a demo of that you do not know, after all the Queen gets what the Queen demands.

You’re handed a screw driver, “Build me a stair where I ascend yet I descend at the same time” ordered the Queen.

Hatter, Hare and even Dormouse watch in fear as you try to explain, “That’s impossible, what you describe is Penrose Stairs, and how can I do this with a screwdriver!“.

“Do as you are told”, said the Queen, “Or off with your head!”.

You try and try, and lo and behold you’ve built a staircase that no one dares use. The Cheshire Cat comes to your aid, with it’s logic and wisdom you try your hand at an impossible task.

The demo descends into chaos, and the Queen out of patience (not that she had many) orders her executioner to behead the savvy Cat.

Most everyone’s mad here

The Cat is now but a floating head laughing with you, or maybe at you, all it enjoys is a creep here and a creep there.

Its had its fun, for how would an executioner behead a head with no body! Its an impossible feat he argues and complains!

You question your sanity, but the Cat says “Oh, you can’t help that. Most everyone’s mad here. [laughs maniacally and begins to disappear] You have noticed that I’m not all there myself”.