Monday, November 21, 2011

Plan like there's no tomorrow

A mistake I see a lot when I'm coaching client/managers on developing release and iteration plans is delaying some of the most valuable stories until the 2nd or 3rd iteration. This is in a course project with only 4 iterations to begin with!

I think it arises from being used to creating schedules to fill the time allotted to the project. You know you can't do everything at once, so you take the pile of valuable stuff and spread it out. With enough repetition of the MVP mantra, they get the idea that they need to think small and high value, but that just reduces the size of the pile, not the urge to spread things out.

So I tell them "plan like there's no tomorrow."  Assume the project has been cancelled. This is your last iteration. What do you put in it to get the most value you can in this final turn? If you really take seriously the idea that this is all you get to do, you start creating an iteration plan that takes thin slices of value from those later iterations. Pack in all the goodies that your developers are willing to commit to, just not as complete and fancy as you'd hoped those goodies would be.

The danger of planning for the future is trusting that the future will still be there. So plan like there isn't a future.