Pinnie the Wooh and DSDM

DSDM, or Dynamic Systems Development Method, is a subject not often associated with a children’s story. At least not until now. Thanks to DevShed contributor Ivan Idris, we can all take a bit of a break while enjoying this tale about a very important bear and a very important subject. (Somewhat based on the books of A. A. Milne.) “Sometimes, when you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.” — Winnie the Pooh, a totally different bear than the one in this story. Really.

One morning in the 200 Acre Wood, Pinnie the Wooh was thinking about how hungry he was, when he saw somebody who looked like he was lost. Wooh knew from his own experience how it felt to look for Home and not find it. In fact he had done it so often that he was getting quite good at it.

“Hello,” said Wooh.  “I am Pinnie the Wooh. Can I help you with something?”

The stranger looked up and smiled. “Good morning, Wooh. Don’t you recognize me? It’s me Christopher Robison.”

“Christopher Robison,” Wooh shouted. Wooh was so happy that he completely forgot how hungry he was. “I haven’t seen you in years!”

“Well, I have graduated from college and I have started an IT consultancy company at home. Now I am writing a paper about the Dynamic Systems Development Method  and I was hoping that you can help me with it.”

“Din-ami syst-ims dev-elop-men-tet met-ot” said Wooh slowly.

“Yes, Dynamic Systems Development Method or DSDM. It is a method for fast application development. DSDM is based on a collection of best practices, which people have been using in successful development projects.”

“These are very big words and I am a Bear of Very Little Brain. Is DSDM nice like honey?”

“It can be, if you apply its principles correctly.”

“This is very confusing. Everybody likes honey.  Especially in the morning, or after breakfast, or any other time of the day.”

“We are talking about DSDM not about honey.”

“I am more interested in honey. I haven’t eaten in an hour.”

“DSDM is a very important subject and I really need your help.”

“Ok, I will help you because it’s a very important subject and I will help you with it because I can become a very important bear.”

{mospagebreak title=Wooh’s Adventure with DSDM Principles}

“The reason that DSDM is a very important subject is that without it important things would not be done on time or not the right way.”

“Oh,” then Wooh asked, to show that he was paying attention: “What are the DSDM principles?”

“Let’s use one of our adventures as an example of a DSDM project. Remember the time when you and Wiglet built a house for Ee-orr. Now you didn’t apply DSDM, but you still did a good job and Ee-orr was very pleased with his new house.”

Christopher Robison picked up a stick and started writing in the sand. “This is the first principle.” He wrote down with big letters:

ACTIVE USER INVOLVEMENT IS IMPERATIVE.

“The user in this case was Ee-orr and he wasn’t involved in any way, was he, Wooh?”

“No he wasn’t. He thought that his house was blown away by the wind and had landed where we built his new house with sticks. He was really proud of it, you know.”

“You built a house just the way Ee-orr wanted it and you actually made an improvement by building it out of the wind. Normally you wouldn’t have that knowledge beforehand and you will really have to apply the first DSDM principle. The next principle is:

DSDM TEAMS MUST BE EMPOWERED TO MAKE DECISIONS.

“Wooh, you made the important decision to build Ee-orr’s house out of the wind with sticks. Wiglet helped by suggesting using a pile of sticks on the other side of the forest. Clearly you were both able to make decisions fast, and that sped up the project.”

“Wiglet and I were standing out of the wind when I thought of building a house for Ee-orr. We called the place Wooh Corner and we decided to build the house there. We could have called it ‘Wooh and Wiglet Corner,’ but ‘Wooh Corner’ sounds better, which it does and it really is one.”

THE FOCUS IS ON FREQUENT DELIVERY OF PRODUCTS.

Wooh looked admiringly at the letters.

“Obviously this doesn’t apply, since you built the house only once. However if you were a company that builds houses from sticks – this principle would be very important.”

“If the wind blew the house every day, then we would have to build it every day. Is that what this Princthingy is, Christopher Robison?”

“Not exactly, because you will then deliver the same product every time. I don’t think that you will do that anyway.”

FITNESS FOR BUSINESS PURPOSE IS THE ESSENTIAL CRITERION FOR ACCEPTANCE OF DELIVERABLES.

“The business purpose here is providing a comfortable home for Ee-orr. You succeeded in that perfectly. Ee-orr however didn’t accept anything, since he didn’t know that you built a house for him.”

ITERATIVE AND INCREMENTAL DEVELOPMENT IS NECESSARY TO CONVERGE ON AN ACCURATE BUSINESS SOLUTION.

“The first iteration was when Ee-orr built his house. He didn’t choose the right location and his house was blown away by the wind. Then, Wooh, in the second iteration you improved on Ee-orr’s design by choosing a sheltered location. Usually more iterations are necessary, but you were lucky to reach your goal in one iteration.”

“That’s because Wiglet helped, and I guess I am a Very Lucky Bear.”

“Yes, you are, Wooh.”

ALL CHANGES DURING DEVELOPMENT ARE REVERSIBLE.

“Rev-esi-ble. What does that mean, Christopher Robison?”

“Reversible means that you can undo it. In this case you could have changed your decision about the location of the new house and placed it where Ee-orr originally built his house. The main advantage of this principle is that you can undo bad decisions and will not have to start all over again.”

Christopher Robison produced a piece of paper from his pocket. “I have already written down the other principles,” he said, and started reading quickly.

REQUIREMENTS ARE BASELINED AT A HIGH LEVEL.

“This way the final system is most likely to meet the users requirements.”

TESTING IS INTEGRATED THROUGHOUT THE LIFECYCLE.

“The risk that the computer system will work incorrectly will be reduced.”

A COLLABORATIVE AND CO-OPERATIVE APPROACH BETWEEN ALL STAKEHOLDERS IS ESSENTIAL.

“The implementation will go smoothly, because all parties are involved.”

{mospagebreak title=DSDM by Example}

Christopher Robison stopped reading and put the paper back in his pocket. “What do you think about the DSDM principles, Wooh?”

“Christopher Robison, I am only a bear with a Very Little Brain. I think that Owl will be more interested in these principles. Wiglet and me just felt sorry about Ee-orr, because he had nowhere to live. It was snowing that day and Ee-orr kept complaining about how cold it was. So we built him a house that was big enough for him, although I think that his tail wouldn’t fit.”

“You just described the Must have’s of your project – the basic requirements of your project. Ee-orr needed a house where he could shelter from the snow.”

Wooh leaned against a tree and said in a hungry voice, “I have always one must have. I must have honey.”

“Oh, Wooh, I completely forgot.” Christopher Robison went into the forest and came back with a big honey pot.

“Is that for me, Christopher Robison. Thank you,” said Wooh excited.

“The must haves are part of the MoSCoW rules. There are also should haves, could haves and would haves. This is the way DSDM categorizes requirements based on priority.”

“You said that Ee-orr was a User. Are Wiglet and me also Users?” asked Wooh while licking his honey smeared paw.

“I am glad you asked that. DSDM defines a number of project and team roles. In this case you and Wiglet had the role of Developers. This is a team role. Other team roles are Team Leader, Ambassador User, Senior Developer and Scribe. The project roles are Project Manager, Technical Co-ordinator, Visionary and Advisor User, Executive Sponsor. One person can perform multiple roles. For example, a project manager is often also the Team Leader. Some team members can have part-time participation. This is the case for the Visionary, Advisor User and Executive Sponsor.”

Pinnie the Wooh and Christopher Robison sat on the green soft grass in the peaceful forest. Pinnie the Wooh held an empty honey pot in his hands and thought about their conversation.

“Well, Wooh, I think that the paper will write itself now.  We already covered the nine principles of DSDM, the MoSCoW rules and the DSDM roles.”

“Do you really think that I will become a Very Important Bear just because I helped you with a Very Important Subject like DSDM? After you have finished your paper, I mean.”

“You silly old bear it doesn’t matter whether I finish my paper or not, you always were a Very Very Important Bear and you always will be.”

“Oh,” Wooh thought. “That’s just the kind of Bear I am!”


Written by Ivan Idris

I am software developer, who had to deal with DSDM during his professional career. I must admit that I am more of a Pinnie the Wooh fan then DSDM fan. Still I think that DSDM is a good development and I hope that this article contributed to the increase of its popularity.

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