Question: How many technologists does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Answer: It depends on your methodology.

If you’re a technologist, you’ll get my joke. If you’re not, watch the video to learn how a light bulb is a perfect analogy for technology methodology.

Development methodology for trading desks is typically split into two camps: waterfall and agile. In short, waterfall means that one step follows the other: functional requirements, technical requirements, design, develop, test, and so on; agile means that you create quick prototypes, plan two-week “sprints,” and revise based on feedback. It’s a source of endless debate as to which method is better, and I’m not here to say that one is superior.

My point is that selecting the right methodology is just as important as selecting the technology to be implemented. If you think back to projects you’ve worked on, some probably went well and others didn’t. Sometimes those difficult projects were due to the technology, but a lot of the time it was because the right methodology wasn’t in place.

By that, I mean that the “right” methodology is appropriate for the task at hand. It might be waterfall or agile, or a mix of the two, within the project criteria, budget, timeline and expectations.

Do you agree that the methodology doesn’t matter as much as its appropriateness, or are you a purist and believe that one is better than the other?