While preparing for the Professional Agile Leadership I (PAL I) certification, I came across this little video (it's part of the material to study): Empiricism is an essential element of Scrum. In it, Mark Noneman provides the example of the thermostat. When the temperate is too low, the thermostat will turn on the heater to increase the temperate toward the 'set point'. When the temperate is too high, it will turn on the air conditioning to attempt to reach the same goal.

The goal here is to reach or maintain a specific temperature, for instance, 21°C (or 34°F). Mark also explicitly mentions that you need to inspect often enough in order to have a useful closed loop. You can't measure the temperature on a daily basis only and expect a useful outcome. It will either be too hot, or too cold.

But it made me ponder. When I think about the housing back in the Netherlands, I think of houses that are exquisitely insulated. Double glazing, insulated walls and roofs, the works. In such houses, provided you keep the doors and windows closed, the temperature is incredibly stable. (In fact, in some new houses you can't even open any windows any more, and replacing stale air with fresh air will be handled by "balansventilatie"—it's a type of ventilation where heat exchange happens between the inlet and the outlet in order to save energy). While measuring the temperature once a day is probably not quite enough, you definitely don't need to sample it on a minute by minute basis.

Now, compare this to typical Australian houses. During my almost six years in Perth, Western Australia, I have been completely underwhelmed with the build quality of houses. Even in the relatively new apartment building I lived in, the windows were basically made of thin plastic (maybe 4mm thick). Sure, we had relatively little draft there, but with the sun beating down on the building, it would heat up significantly. In other houses, we could actually feel the wind go through the house, even with windows and doors closed. It's no fun having to sit under a blanket during the day because it gets too cold otherwise...

In a sense, the way in which Dutch houses are built has reduced the complexity of the temperature inside. The weather system inside Dutch houses is simple. The weather system inside Australian houses is complex: the sun has more power and can heat up the inside considerably, at the same time the lack of insulation can make the wind howl through a house even with all doors and windows closed. In Melbourne, Victoria, with its "four seasons in a day," the sitation is even worse...

I'm sure there are situations in business too where the "weather system" is simple. In that case, you don't need Scrum. But when the business world gets more complex, you may need to reconsider. What is your set point? Is your business equipped to work toward that set point? Does everyone know what to do when you don't reach it, or when you overshoot the target (an actual thing in control loops)? It's all at the heart of empiricism, which is itself at the heart of Scrum.

There are also probably much, much more variables at play than in either Dutch or Australian houses, in which case building a business around empiricism only makes more sense...