May 22, 2006

...Learn TDD with Codemanship

What Is Capability?

More thoughts on capability...

In my last post I ruminated about the relationship between capability and performance. Certainly they are not the same thing. Certainly they are very closely related.

I suggested we could think of a team's capability as being a set of performance data points clustered around a capability attractor. The data points define a performance distribution.

Imagine organising an archery competition. Competitors fire arrows at a target, aiming for the bullseye - the smallest circle in the centre. Each competitor gets 5 shots, and the distance from the exact centre of the target, d, is plotted on a graph.

At first glance the distribution of data for each competitor might seem random, especially from just 5 shots. But we can already begin to see that some people's data is clustered closer to the target than others. This performance distribution might give us some idea of the probability of a competitor getting within, say, 5cm of the target with a single shot.

We can see that Jill is more likely to hit that target than any of the others. Jill's capability is highest, based on the evidence of those 5 shots. Of course, she may have just gotten lucky. The problem with evidence is that you need an infinite amount of it to prove anything beyond any doubt. The more evidence we collect, though, the less likely it is that our picture is an improbable aberration - like George W Bush winning two elections...

This gives us a much simpler and quite elegant definition of "capability":

Capability is the probability of performance

Even if I say so myself, that's pretty neat. I shall give myself a pat on the back and a cheese and pickle sandwich :-)

Posted 15 years, 4 months ago on May 22, 2006