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Oct 1

Is The World (Really) Flat?

by Chad, Michael Mah, Comments Off on Is The World (Really) Flat?

Oct 1

October 1, 2007

This coming Wednesday Oct 3rd at 6pm, I’ll be giving a talk at the Chicago SPIN about whether the “Flat World” according to author Thomas Friedman, is really flat when it comes to complex technology projects, especially those involving software.

This presentation was really popular when I delivered it as a Keynote Address at the IT Association of Galway, Ireland a while back. Just for kicks, I plan to show data on Agile Development projects to juxtapose two of the powerful trends in technology today. I’m not saying that either is better or worse per-se, but they are strikingly different in their philosophy and their outcomes. For details, see the abstract and directions to the event below. You might also want to read an interview that I did on this subject by clicking here.

Hope to see some of you in Chicago this week!




In “The World Is Flat,” author Thomas Friedman describes how a “connected” world has made it possible to do almost anything collaboratively with people around the planet. This globalization has driven companies to not only to distribute low-wage manufacturing around the world, but also high-end design and knowledge work as well, like software development.

But is the world really flat when it comes to creating and designing software? Labor rates are but one dimension of outsourcing. What does a worldwide database of actual completed projects show compared to what people expect? Do apparent cost savings reflect similar outcomes for time-to-market and quality? Are companies satisfied with their ability to achieve all of their outsourcing goals? Do companies that have already outsourced intend to stay the course or switch? What are some of the implications of Agile development and outsourcing?

This talk will answer these and other important issues that senior executives need to consider when evaluating their options, using benchmark statistics compiled by recent research of several hundred companies that have made outsourcing a part of their global development strategy.

About the Presenter

Michael Mah is a contributing author of “IT Measurement, Advice from the Experts”, Prentice Hall ©2003, and an in-progress work entitled, “Optimal Friction, People Dynamics at Work in the Information Age.” (His blog is at Michael is a senior consultant with the Cutter Consortium, where he is director of the Measurement and Benchmarking Practice and senior consultant for the Sourcing & Vendor Relationships Advisory. He is also the managing partner of QSM Associates Inc. in Pittsfield, MA USA, a firm specializing in software metrics and project estimation (

Michael’s work merges concepts in benchmarking with negotiation for IT Outsourcing and Relationship Management. Michael’s particular interest is in people dynamics and the complex interactions involved in global software development. He is a featured industry speaker and writer on outsourcing and software productivity at events such as the Carnegie Mellon SEI Conference, the Cutter Summit series, the Better Software Conference, the TPI Outsourcing Conferences, and the Sourcing Interests Group (SIG). He has worked with a wide range of international clients such as Rockwell, Intel, HP, JPMorganChase, BellSouth/AT&T, and others.

He has a degree in electrical engineering from Tufts University with a focus on electromagnetic physics and Far Eastern history. He is trained in mediation and conflict resolution from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Driving and Parking Directions

From I-90 Northwest Tollway, exit North on Barrington Road. Take Barrington Road to Lakewood Blvd (2nd light) and turn East (right) onto Lakewood Blvd. Turn right into the AT&T Campus Center’s West Employee Entrance (the first entrance past Eagle Way) and follow the signs to the West Parking Structures.

Parking is available in upper level parking lot W1 or covered lot W2. Look for parking spaces towards the west end of the parking structures. The Institute Building, located across the road (west of the parking structures), is approximately a 3-5 minute walk from the parking structure. Visit for a map of the AT&T Campus Center.

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