I came across this great blog from Leading Answers, which made me think of a bumpy adventure I had while driving through our wonderful state of Arizona on a return trip from Las Vegas. I came upon a fatality accident, which we all know will keep the road closed for hours. I had the choice of driving all the way back to the Interstate (a known route that would add 6 hours to the trip), or taking a detour down an unknown route. Yes, you guessed it, I took the unknown detour thinking it would save time! The detour started out fine until it turned into a dirt road and darkness fell. 6 hours later on what turned out to be a very bumpy dirt road, I made it back on the interstate. If I had gone the original route with the smoother surface, it would have taken the same amount of time, but there would have been less wear and tear on my car, my stress level, and my hindquarters. If you can remove the bumps in a project so there aren’t gaps in knowledge, then while it may still take the same length of time, there will be less wear and tear on the whole project team as everyone is able to collaborate to achieve the objectives.
Wash-boarding is an instability that occurs when vehicles move on dirt roads. What starts off with a small bump turns into a whole series of small bumps as vehicles travel the road. Washboard roads are more dangerous than smooth dirt roads and have to be driven at lower speeds. All these bumps are a pain in the rear (literally) and make you go slower.
We see the resourcing equivalent of washboard roads in projects too. Traditional projects staff early with business analysts to do the bulk of the requirements gathering and then bring in developers and finally QA people. These peaks and valleys of specialization not only look like a washboard road, but they have the same effect, they are a pain in the rear and make you go slower.
You can read the piece here: http://leadinganswers.typepad.com/leading_answers/2011/06/the-washboard-anti-pattern.html