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The Volvo Ocean Race metaphor

The use of metaphors has long been a best practice in eXtreme Programming. Since a few years I am using the metaphor of the Volvo Ocean Race. First of all I was born near the sea and sailing and windsurfing in the sea is what I love and miss. Second the parallel between the race and a project is surprising real:

– You start together on a journey to reach a certain goal or destination

– You work together as a team and every team member has certain role and expertise

– You need a mixture of junior and senior in your team

– There is roadmap with milestones (ports)

The first part of the race the project had smooth start and we past the first gates (milestones) relatively easy. Then the trouble began. There were issues with the “”keel”” and we were losing valuable time. After that the supplier stated the design of the “”keel”” was based on wrong assumptions. It needed to be replaced. In the next stop the “”keel”” needed to be replaced.

In a short update with end users I used some shots from video’s showing sail boat in trouble. I referred to the kickoff that there would be surprised during the race. This was acknowledged and we went on.

On route to the next stop the team discovered more problems and the ship was making water. The situation became more worse when the term budget entered the discussion. All possible scenario’s were discussed. We even talked about abandoning the ship. While the team struggled to keep the ship afloat there were tough discussions on the executive level. Finally an agreement was made. The ship is almost in port and we start replacing the keel and prepare  for the next leg. Hopefully we start winning some points.

The 2011-2012 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race starts 29 October 2011 in Alicante Spain.”

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