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FAQ

Both Lean and Scrum describe a development process. They both have valuable aspects of which Paperclip shares a few, like simplicity, face to face development and MVP.

Agile describes a set of values that Paperclip overlaps with, like simplicity and working face-to-face. But Agile does not describe simplicity.

Paperclip is about implementing radical simplification. It's about removing unnecessary, untimely, and overcomplicated elements, both in planning, functionality, team size and communication.

No, although it shares some ideas, like being frugal. But Lean is about a iterative process, not a Mindset.

Lean is about Startup projects, during which it is often very unknown who the users will be and what they actually want. Unlike the Paperclip Mindset, Lean focuses on tuning the engine.

Besides project time, the Paperclip Mindset also focuses on team, target, and technology. The guidelines are even applicable to projects outside of IT.

The Paperclip Mindset and Lean can be applied in combination.

For each functional element, I try to constantly ask myself and others:

1) Do we really need it? Is it part of the essentials or is it nice-to-have? Often, it turns out to be luxury (YAGNI).

2) Do we really need it now? Or can we postpone it? Often, it's not yet necessary.

3) Do we really need it like this? Can we simplify it or create a shortcut? Often, a simpler implementation can be found.

True, but it's very hard to adhere to. Most IT projects easily become more complex and spin out of control.

Team members need to constantly be reminded to return back to the essentials. The Paperclip Mindset can be of help in this process.

No. KISS, or "Keep It Simple, Stupid!" indeed praises simplicity (in general), but Paperclip provides insights through examples and guidelines on how to achieve simplicity (specifically for IT projects).

Everybody agrees with keeping it simple, it's a no-brainer. But what simplicity actually is, few can explain. In my experience, many proponents of the simplest solution can still come up with extremely complex implementations.

I have been responsible for projects that experienced cost and time overruns. But this is almost unavoidable (think Hofstadter's Law). The trick is to keep these overruns within reasonable limits. Generally I succeeded because of my pessimistic attitude towards IT projects, but it is still really hard.

Regarding really failed projects: in 2006 I was part of a large project during which I felt I had to speak up and blow the whistle, warning for time overruns. To my frustration and amazement few cared to listen. So I left the project.

A year later, my pessimistic predictions even turned out to be too modest. The new site was launched one morning (half a year later than scheduled), it crashed within two hours and the old site was reinstated. It took another eight months (!) before the new site was successfully released.

People tend to this the best Project Management Software will make all the difference. But I disagree. It's a bit similar to thinking that the best tennis shoes will make all the difference for your game.

I'm a proponent of simply using a spreadsheet (Google Suite). Everybody knows what spreadsheets are so there's little need for instructions or having everybody install specific software. It's also highly flexible. More importantly, a spreadsheet forces you to keep it simple.

I learned that the elaborate film crew of the hugely successful TV drama Downton Abbey simply used colored Post-it notes on their planning board. This has a great advantage, namely that it's very visible for all people involved. From my own experience this is a great way to create motivation and shared project awareness among team members.

It works very well, but is far from a guarantee for success. The remarkable thing is that I still notice how easily I can complicate things. But the good thing is that I now often recognize this behaviour beforehand, so that I can limit the damage done. Writing down the various cases really helped me with this.

Besides the Paperclip Mindset I have also learned how to best approach a functional or technical problem. There are generally many ways to skin a cat, but the first thought-of solution is often the most costly and elaborate one.

So, what I do to get the simplest solution is to first stipulate all possible solutions and then discuss them with the product owner or a technical person, depending on the kind of problem. This can involve an algorithm, a user-interface issue or a database setup. I have noticed that by explaining the problem and discussing the potential solutions it was both easy and every satisfying to identify the simplest one.

This is indeed something that I have observed, engineers tend to be overengineers. I think there are multiple reasons for this, often unconscious.

First reason is that by talking complexity you can impress your peers and show how intelligent you are.

The second reason is that by making things complex you make yourself indispensable.

The third reason is that by choosing multiple new and fanciful technologies (tech stacking) you improve your resume and your potential success on the job market.

To overcome this tendency it is good to foster a culture that promotes simplicity. I have tried it and it works! :-) Praise those who suggest simpler solutions.

Perfection is easy to ask for, who would not want everything? But it's virtually impossible to achieve, and very expensive and time consuming.

Perfection is the enemy of the deadline. Life is full of compromises and any IT project is no different. Think of the Pareto Principle (the 80/20 rule) in this regard. Getting to 80% of you goal is often relatively easy. Adding another 20% can easily be 10 times as costly.

Perfection should better be to strike an optimal balance between wishes, costs, time and effort. That would be ideal for a customer. The Paperclip Mindset intends to help with striking that balance.

Perfection is easy to ask for, who would not want everything? But it's virtually impossible to achieve, and very expensive and time consuming.

Perfection is the enemy of the deadline. Life is full of compromises and any IT project is no different. Think of the Pareto Principle (the 80/20 rule) in this regard. Getting to 80% of you goal is often relatively easy. Adding another 20% can easily be 10 times as costly.

Perfection should better be to strike an optimal balance between wishes, costs, time and effort. That would be ideal for a customer. The Paperclip Mindset intends to help with striking that balance.

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