MonthFebruary 2017

The adverse effect of version numbers

“We’ll fix that in the 2.0 release!” Sound familiar? To me it does, as I used to say this quite a lot up until a couple of years back when I got introduced to Scrum. Around that time I drew the painful conclusion that version numbers may have a very adverse effect: to draw any software development into a waterfall-like process and postpone the release of value.

The problem with version numbers is that they are abused for something they are not. They’re not targets, they’re not milestones, and they’re definitely not a reason to postpone delivering value.

I’ve seen a lot of situations where version numbers were actually hurting a product, postponing any release for long periods of time. The worst example I’ve come across is no release for 7 years (and counting), which is for a 2.0 release for an immensely popular VPS control panel. Until this date, any fix or improvement is being “moved to 2.0” only never to be heard from again. Another example is a product heading for a 2.0 release that never even made it and got thrown away in the end. That was, after a timespan of about two years and at least 20 2-week Sprints invested (think of how much that has cost!). In both cases, and I have to admit these are extremes, no value was delivered (yet).

Value should be delivered very frequently, regardless of a version number. Bugs or defects should be fixed immediately and should never be postponed until a “version number release” or any other value release, because they are negative value. All a version number should be is a label on something that has been achieved in the past, like the time in which you’ve ran half a marathon or like velocity: an indication of what has been achieved in the past.

Version numbers are actually very useful if used properly, because they allow you to keep track of different versions of software, a document, or something else. But if you make them more than just a label or an indicator of something achieved int he past, the very frequent and adverse effect is that the delivery of value gets postponed.

The American Dream at Prowareness

I am in the very luxurious position to work at an amazing company called Prowareness. Prowareness is a company where you can make your ‘American Dream’ come true and I’d like to tell you more about that.

A short while ago I read a book in which the American Dream was explained in a very short and concise way: the freedom to pursue the ultimate individual happiness (whatever that may be). Two weeks later I was listening to a speech from our CEO regarding the growth of people within Prowareness. He wants Prowareness to grow and to keep growing. When asked why, he didn’t give the answer most people would expect (which was money). He explained he wanted to provide a platform or a movement in which individuals could grow, because the growth of an organization’s employees will accelerate the growth of the organization itself. So individual growth was the ultimate goal for organization growth. Followed by money, of course.

To me this is having the American Dream incorporated in Prowareness. Prowareness provides people with the freedom to pursue their ultimate individual happiness and Prowareness provides you with the tools and needs for that.

A great example of that freedom is the principle of Vision Groups. Every four weeks on a Tuesday afternoon all Prowareness employees gather in Delft and get one assignment: to not work for the next four hours. Instead, they get to spend time on any topic they’re passionate about. They get time to innovate, to explore, to talk to colleagues, to create new products, and most of all to learn. The effort spent on a Vision Group may eventually result in participation in a Dragons’ Den where people can win an investment of up to €25,000 in their vision. One of these visions has resulted in a new organization (under the Prowareness Group umbrella) called DevOn after having won the Dragons’ Den.

Naturally, we are not limited by the Vision Groups. We can spend time on personal growth whenever and wherever we want; the Vision Groups just provide a platform. There’s plenty of opportunity to grow and explore their our personal dream (for example by speaking at events or attending the monthly Guild session at Prowareness). The only limit is usually time, or sometimes imagination, but there’s people willing to help with that as well.

My American Dream is the American Dream and right now I’m pursuing that dream at Prowareness by taking the steps to expand Prowareness to the USA.

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