It's a Trap.. Why long term projections in Agile Scrum do not work
A wise lesson from Admiral Ackbar
It is one of my favorite scenes in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. As the rebel fleet is deeply engaged in all out attack of the new Death Start and things seem to be going well, the fleet leader Admiral Ackbar has a revelation that they have been deceived and have walked into a massive trap. If your organization is new to adopting Agile Scrum or have been practicing for a while but are starting to struggle you may have been lulled into a Trap. So put on your Han Solo vest and lets dive into this common pitfall.
Almost too simple
Agile Scum can greatly simplify your estimation process. With enough time and collection of metrics you can start to play "what-if" games against your backlog and create projections against large collections of features. While this practice can have value for determining if you can reach company goals or objectives, it opens up a slippery slope to the dark side.
There is a draw to start to use these projections as absolutes to when features will be completed. The speed at which these projections can be completed can lead to management wanting to find the best possible combination to plan out the next few years. Within the blink of a eye these seemingly innocent projections can be turned into fixed objectives complete with revenue dependencies locked to their completion.
As we know in software development, the further you get from work happening today the greater the level of uncertainty that exists in the need or ability to complete it. In scrum we continually re-evaluate the next highest priority based on Value in return to decide what to deliver next. If an organization falls into "the Trap" of long term forecasting and planning based on the current backlog bad things happen. Often by the time you notice major corrections are needed to set things right.
Fear leads to anger
I am going to steal another famous Star Wars quote. Yoda is discussing the path of progression to the Dark Side. "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering" There is a parallel progression within your organization that will happen when long term projections are abused.
Once features are places on a fixed road map with an absolute projection, it is common to become so focused on keeping them on schedule that the discussion about is there still value in building them is lost.
Once a company stops actively discussing what next feature has the highest value in return they will lose focus on the market demands of their product.
Once a company looses focus on where there is value in the market, the product will become less valuable to the end users.
Once a Customer stops seeing value in a product they will stop using it.
Once a Customers stops using it incoming revenue will be reduced.
The response to reduced revenue is to make a drastic response to correct the product.
Because development is already underway corrections and changing course will be painful and lengthy depending on how far off course the product vision has drifted
One of the main drivers of this behavior is fear. The other is lack of trust. Fear or uncertainty that there is a plan for generating new revenue. Lack if trust in the companies ability to detect and respond appropriately to the needs of the market. The most common response is to seek comfort in designing a foolproof plan to schedule and project future revenue.
The reality is that the projection of revenue does not equal cash in hand and is a false comfort. True revenue is only generated upon completion and delivery of value to the market; which then respond with payment.
The correct but unnatural response to this is to focus efforts into listening to the market and respond with solutions that solve today's needs. Buy making your offering more valuable to the market buy solving the issues they have today. If you are not someone else is, and the market may not wait for you.
How far out
How far our do you have detailed plans for your product
So how far out can you plan?
Realistically 90 to 120 days. Which is about the length of time it takes to mature a feature from concept to "ready" to develop. Anything beyond that you must treat with an increasing level of skepticism and be willing to shelve or postpone it if the market changes direction. In today's tech driven society things change too fast. The pace of change and adoption consumers expect today happens faster then at any previous time in history. If you are planning in absolutes any further beyond this with anything more than line items or boxes you are wasting time and focusing on the wrong things.
Other articles written by me
- Improving Agile Scrum - Making Team Retrospectives Count
Agile Scrum can be a great and effective way to manage development team projects. The team retrospective is critical to a teams ability to communicate with each other and continually improve.
- Should I grow a beard?
Yes, Yes you should? here are some fun facts about beards that help you become a distinguished man for the ages.
- Do you have Knee and Hip Pain? It could be your shoes
Often overlooked in dealing with knee and hip pain is footware. Today's footwear is designed with heavy cushioning that places the foot in unnatural positions leading to chronic pain.
- Survival Prepping 101 Getting Started
We live in turbulent times and the possibility of civilization altering events is higher than it has ever been. Many people are stockpiling supplies to prepare for these seemingly inevitable events.
- When Gluten Free Is Not Enough- Try Paleo
Today many people are realizing the the modern strains of wheat used today has been the source of many health issues. Gluten may not be the only culprit and adopting a paleo diet may help.
- Save money with this easy homemade laundry detergent
This easy to make laundry detergent works as well as the larger store brands and cost about $.75 a gallon to make
- You can reverse Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes is a scary diagnosis. Many options given patients focus around control methods and leave patients feeling like they have not options to reverse their condition.
- Learn how to become a Freemason
So you want to be a Mason? The ancient art of Freemasonry is alive and well today. It is an organization that is active in the community and has a focus to make good men great. Wan't in?
- Bearded Dragons Make Great Pets
Bearded Dragons have been a long time favorite of reptile enthusiasts for many years. They are sturdy personable lizards that make great exhibition pieces and even form bonds with their care takers.
- Why Cyber Schooling can be a better option
Cyber Schooling is solving problems for a growing number of families with children falling through the cracks of the current public education system. Why is Cyber Schooling working so well?
Help Spread the Word
If you have found the information in the article helpful please take a moment to share it with others.
You can do this by:
- Liking on Facebook
- Pinning on Pintrest
- Tweeting it on Twitter
It will only take a few seconds and the tools to do this are right on this page. By doing so you help increase this pages overall search engine rankings and increase the chances of someone else discovering this page.
Thank You kindly