As the Agile Churns

Ronald G.  Ross
Ronald G. Ross Co-Founder & Principal, Business Rule Solutions, LLC , Executive Editor, Business Rules Journal and Co-Chair, Building Business Capability (BBC) Read Author Bio       || Read All Articles by Ronald G. Ross

Speed is the name of the game for digital start-ups and, hence, all things agile. Gather a small group of high-performing individuals and let them loose. But is tech debt the only risk? Not even close!

The bigger risk is the burn-out effect of continuous churn. Visiting the same questions over and over again. Tons of meetings to discuss problems where a dozen people weigh in on a problem that's already been decided. Sound familiar?

Let me tell you where it ends up. Continual communication disconnects. Lots of head-butting and loss of interpersonal energy. Exhaustion. Your high-performers burning out quickly. Goal posts moving continuously. Insurmountable barriers to expanded future capabilities. The story is now oh-so-familiar.

And so unnecessary! The solution lies with recognizing that communities of people (of virtually any size) learn differently than individuals. You can actually speed-up community learning by creating a blueprint. Putting stakes in the ground about what is known and decided. Without those stakes, how can you ever really know if you're actually learning or improving anything?

What are those stakes in the ground? Terms and definitions. A concept model. A tech-agnostic structured business vocabulary.

Can you imagine building a house without any blueprint?! Proceeding team-wise according to a basic blueprint doesn't mean all the paint and light fixtures have to be decided up-front. You simply have to be able to collectively 'see' the shape of what you're building.

A blueprint is a fundamental communication tool for building something complex. For a house, it's the basic geography. For a digital product, it's the basic business knowledge.

I'll go so far as to say this: A team of superstars will be less effective and less sustainable than a team of 'regular' professionals working diligently within the context of a concept model. I'll put my money on it.

Great people working overtime for months on end can mask your deep fault lines. Everything works right up until the time it suddenly doesn't. Don't let it happen to you!

Acks Chris Thomson

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Standard citation for this article:

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Ronald G. Ross, "As the Agile Churns" Business Rules Journal, Vol. 23, No. 09, (Sep. 2022)

About our Contributor:

Ronald  G. Ross
Ronald G. Ross Co-Founder & Principal, Business Rule Solutions, LLC , Executive Editor, Business Rules Journal and Co-Chair, Building Business Capability (BBC)

Ronald G. Ross is Principal and Co-Founder of Business Rule Solutions, LLC, where he actively develops and applies the BRS Methodology including RuleSpeak®, DecisionSpeak and TableSpeak.

Ron is recognized internationally as the "father of business rules." He is the author of ten professional books including the groundbreaking first book on business rules The Business Rule Book in 1994. His newest are:

Ron serves as Executive Editor of and its flagship publication, Business Rules Journal. He is a sought-after speaker at conferences world-wide. More than 50,000 people have heard him speak; many more have attended his seminars and read his books.

Ron has served as Chair of the annual International Business Rules & Decisions Forum conference since 1997, now part of the Building Business Capability (BBC) conference where he serves as Co-Chair. He was a charter member of the Business Rules Group (BRG) in the 1980s, and an editor of its Business Motivation Model (BMM) standard and the Business Rules Manifesto. He is active in OMG standards development, with core involvement in SBVR.

Ron holds a BA from Rice University and an MS in information science from Illinois Institute of Technology. Find Ron's blog on For more information about Ron visit Tweets: @Ronald_G_Ross

Read All Articles by Ronald G. Ross

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