Thin,Vertical Slices — the Key to Success!

Happy Mother’s Day to my wife and to all moms!

It’s a Sunday afternoon, 3PM EST, May 13, 2018, Mother’s Day — hot 92F, sunny and breezy, the cool breeze made it a very pleasant weather– when my wife, son, daughter and I walked in to a restaurant to have a late lunch, after church, to celebrate mother’s day.

We had a great lunch…then the dessert came. All very delicious!

One dessert caught my attention while we were eating it — the strawberry short-cake. As we shared it amongst us, we each took turns cutting slicesDSC_4115 of it…thin, vertical slices — I recalled an Agile fundamental: Implementing stories in thin, vertical slices is the foundation for incremental development, integration, and testing!

This fundamental is easy to forget if you are coming from a “Waterfall” methodology…wherein you do thick, horizontal cuts. Example: If you refer to the picture of the strawberry short-cake (full, untouched cake), DSC_4112you will first eat the first layer…then once you are done, eat the second layer, then the third…it is not cool (who eats a cake that way!?). If you transpose that to systems development, the first layer would be “Design”, second layer would be “Build”, the third layer would be “Test”.

What is cool is exactly how we ate that strawberry short-cake: Thin, Vertical Slices! Transposing that to “Lean Agile” agile software development, we do “Design”, “Build”, “Test” so thinly with the idea of building the smallest increments of working systems (see Figure-1 below). Aiming for thin, vertical slice means that you will have a “Fast Feedback Loop”…it can help — sooner rather than later — validate design decisions (remember the earlier Blog — “To Pivot or To Persevere…“?). It also means that teams that are dependent on your code’s availability can consume it sooner rather than later. Goodbye, waterfall!

Figure-1story vertical slices

But, sometimes, there will always be an instance when someone takes a thick, horizontal slice…of the softwareDSC_4116…or the strawberry short-cake for that matter (my daughter took off the first layer — she loved the strawberry topping, and opted out on the remaining two layers).

It is ok…as long as it makes sense!

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