Agile Development Spawns a Lexicon


In his 1957 book Parkinson’s Law, and Other Studies in Administration, the naval historian and author C. Northcote Parkinson writes of a fictional committee meeting during which, after a two-and-a-half-minute nondiscussion on whether to build a nuclear reactor worth US $10 million, the members spend 45 minutes discussing the power plant’s bike shed, worth $2,350. From this he coined Parkinson’s Law of Triviality: “Time spent on any item of the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the sum involved.”

Using Parkinson’s example, the programmer Poul-Henning Kamp popularized the term bikeshedding: frequent, detailed discussions on a minor issue conducted while major issues are being ignored or postponed. The functional opposite of bikeshedding is trystorming, which refers to rapidly and repeatedly prototyping or implementing new products and processes. In a bikeshedding culture, ideas get only a short discussion before being put off “for further study.”

Read more at IEEE Spectrum