The Consultant’s Dilema

In this recent post I concluded that within a Scrum development sprint you should do the highest value stories first.

I’ve since got more pragmatic. “Highest value” should be interpreted as “most valued”. The Agile team’s job is to deliver the stories that our Product Owner(PO) values highest. In an ideal world this would be the same stories that deliver the highest finanicial benefit:cost ratio for the organisation but this isn’t realistic. The PO and other stakeholders are human beings. They will take into consideration: automating away jobs they don’t like, making a name for themselves to help with their own career progression and popularity with their colleagues. Any value-justification hoop they are forced to jump through will result in figures that make what they personally value highest look like the best financial value. Don’t waste their or your own time, exchanging spreadsheet lies.

This is “The Consultant’s Dilema”: you have been employed by a client who works for an organisation. Whose interests are you being paid to represent, your client’s or the organisation’s? If the client’s interests are not totally at odds with those of the organisation or your professional reputation, is it immoral to return the result that is required? Are you in a better position to maximise the value to the organisation by doing only this job or to have the opportunity to deliver greater total value by making your client happy, faster and possibly getting him/her promoted where s/he has wider influence? Who wouldn’t want support from high places?


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