A Software G-Forces Experiment

I ran a quick experiment with a group of colleagues yesterday. Everybody picked up two coloured stickies and placed them somewhere on Kent Beck’s “Software G-Forces” frequency scale.

Software G-Forces is a reference to Kent Beck’s model, where he establishes a logarithmic scale of software deployment frequencies. His model postulates that many technical, organizational, and management practices that make up software development processes depend on this frequency. Changing the frequency creates forces that bend the process into a new shape, causing practices to appear and disappear. See the full video where Beck explains his model here.

In our experiment, each green sticky represented a software organization where one of us worked before the current job. The purple stickies represented the job before that. The current job was excluded from the experiment because that would have skewed the results as nearly all stickies would land in the same column. The experiment was of course unscientific, but some conclusions can still be drawn from it.

Here is the result:

Distribution of software organizations by deployment frequency

The experiment quickly revealed a hockey-stick pattern, which similar to the distribution Kent Beck showed in his talk. The hockey-stick handle descends into daily-hourly fringe. The peak is on quarterly and the organizations with quarterly deployment cycles outnumber the annuals who are facing extinction.

Where Are the Things Going?

The distribution of colour tells the direction where the things are going, although a statistician would argue, probably correctly, that the difference in the positions of green and purple stickies is not statistically significant.  The sample is simply to small for that.

The purple stickies, representing earlier times, are on average just left of quarterly. The green stickies, representing more recent times, are on average between quarterly and monthly. The weekly column has all green stickies.

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