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Friday, May 27, 2005

Why did we choose Crystal Clear?

Gaurav asks in this comment why we chose Crystal Clear.

The reason is simple. We wanted a process that would actually improve the work we did. There are a lot of companies that claim to be CMM-Level 5 and what not, but in actual reality they don't really follow the process. It's only when the audit comes around that everyone pretends to be following the process. We didn't want this to happen.

Most processes are high discipline. They are great in theory - if you followed everything perfectly, then you would get results. But not many people actually follow the process, because it is so much of a pain to do that. So either the process lies around unused or you have a "process department" to force everyone to use the process, neither of which is the right solution.

Crystal Clear is designed to be followed. It just has the three rules (or properties) I mentioned in the previous post. If you take two teams, one following a high discipline process and one following Crystal Clear, then chances are the one following the high discipline process will have better results. However, take a team which is supposed to be following a high discipline process, but is actually not following it and compare with a team following Crystal Clear, then the advantage goes to Crystal Clear.

So, the question was would we prefer to have a great process that no one follows, or a simple process that everyone would like to follow? For us, the answer was a no-brainer, and we went with the latter.

Another factor was that many high discipline process do not scale down easily to small teams. Crystal Clear follows the opposite path, it is optimised for small teams and scales up for higher team sizes.

Finally, the third property of crystal clear (reflective improvement) ensures that any changes to the process are introduced from within the team. Teams introduce additional processes according to the challenges that they face. All process changes are therefore bottom-up rather than top-down.

I'll talk more about this when discussing reflective improvement.

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