The real goal of agile development

The real goal of agile development is “To achieve results on time as promised”

It sounds obvious, but it’s been a long time since agile development became popular, and I also participated as a product owner, looked sideways at the support activities of agile coaches, and had some experience, but I often see this goal is lost.

Specifically, we often see that agile development has an unclear output for the deadline. Therefore, some people recognize that agile development has the advantages of development flexibility, but it has the disadvantage of not achieving results on time, and we often receive such opinions. Isn’t that a mistake?

Originally, whether it is waterfall or agile, the development method is different. In the end both ways should commit output to the promised date and result to the members of the steering committee.

So why is “agile development = cannot promise a goal” ?

This is often due to the premise of a variety of limited resources in the field. For example, even if it’s clear that the number of development members is not enough or members skills in the middle of development, you can’t increase or change members due to cost and required skill. Even if tools are not sufficient, you can’t change the tools due to company security. With such a premise, even if you see behind in the process of agile development towards your goals, you can make improvements with limited resources, but you can’t do much more. Therefore, inevitably, it becomes impossible to commit to the final result.

Agile development is just one of the development methods, and it’s originally one of the elements in a big project. To complete the project, you must meet the deadline and produce output. To that end, not only you introduce agile development, but you need to prepare people, goods, and money to reach our goal. If you look at the burndown chart and the work is behind schedule, you can add human resources, introduce more effective tools, spend money on it, and so on. If nothing is done, it is naturally impossible to recover it with a delay from the plan. When introducing agile development, I feel that you don’t often talk about it from such a viewpoint.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to meet and talk to Jeff Sotherland. At that time, Jeff was also concerned about this point. When it comes to agile development, there are many people who feel the benefits of the development method, Scrum and Sprint, but they are misunderstood that they do not commit the results and may not introduce it. He is also had a clear opinion that whether it was waterfall or agile commit to output.

How is agile development around you incorporated into the project? If you are focusing only on development methods, you may be more aware of the essence of agile development if you review it from this perspective.

What I learned about work productivity by reading “Time Management by Brian Tracy”

Every day, I am conscious of highly productive work. It is difficult for individuals to improve, but I feel that improvement including others is more difficult. I happened to come across this book and found it useful so I would like to introduce it.

This book basically focuses on improving productivity through your own improvements from a time management perspective, but some of them are effective with achieving results as a team.

Based on my own experience, I would like to introduce the following three points.

  • Set priorities
  • Calculate meeting
  • Control Interruption

Set Priorities

I think that deciding the priority is a very important first step to make the right decision every day.

And in order to make a better decision, it is necessary to think about the goal from the Long-term perspective.

From that future vantage point, look back at yourself, to where you are today, and see the steps that you will need to take to get to where you want to go. This “back from the future thinking” is a practice of many top executives.

I often see that many of the tasks are doing from Short-term perspective. For example, I hear stories that some people feel fulfilled by reading a large number of emails every day. Is it really important?

The matter of e-mail is about personal productivity, as a team, we are often starting from tasks that are not important.

Why would such a decision be made?

I think it’s an incorrect decision because it lacks the Long-term perspective. In many cases, tasks that can be touched immediately, or tasks that are less important due to some pressure, have been touched.

In this book, you often use the four quadrants as an example (I will omit them here).

Many people is focused on high Urgent tasks, and when you notice, you only do tasks that are low important (In many cases, reading mail is not even Urgent)

Increasing Productivity means recognizing these four quadrants every day and properly judging whether it is important what kind of work you are trying to do now.

Most of the important tasks are time consuming. There are many important tasks that you have to prepare well, but suddenly becoming URGENT tasks due to put off. The importance and URGENT change possibly, but first of all, you should share them within the team and increase productivity.

By the way, there is no description in the book and it is my personal opinion, I think that there are various ways of thinking in determining this priority. If it is an individual improvement, you should do what you want to do, as shown in the figure below.

Since you belong to a company, you should be aware of what you should do as a company.

The best thing is that what you have to do, what you want to do, and what you can do are the same, but it is often difficult.

Some people will be able to match what they want to do and what they want to do, while others will be able decide what you want to do or what you can do to define what you should do within the company.

In any case, it is important to define what you should do as a high priority

Calculate the meeting.

The cost of the meeting should be considered.

From experience, some meetings start with “what to do, what to do” without prior preparation.

Of course, I think there are meetings like brainstorming, but that also requires preparation for Brest.

If you have ten people in a room who earn an average of $50 per hour, then it is going to cost $500 out of the bank account of the company for a one-hour meeting.

This book touches on the facilities of the conference room used for meetings and the costs involved in labor costs.

For me, in addition to the cost, I think I have to be aware that it spend much time of people.

At a Japanese company I used to work for, there were a lot of regular meetings and a lot of participants.Some people just participate and not speak, furthermore hide behind their computer and do different things.

I should just have to think below.

・ Are you having a really meaningful meeting?

・ Is the participant appropriate?

・ Advance preparations and advance information will be shared with participants as much as possible.

By being aware of the costs involved, you can increase the number of high-productivity meetings and reduce the number of low-productivity meetings.

Control Interruption

It is a matter of course that once work is done, it will not be interrupted until it is completed, and those that are interrupted will be eliminated.

As for myself, for example, I don’t put my smartphone near me, and I keep my desk tidy, which is an interesting and a little painful story, but there are cases like this.

Many people come into work in the morning and begin chit chatting with their coworkers, and then continue for the next two or three hours. In many environments, people don’t really start serious work until about 11:00 a.m., and then soon it is time to break for lunch. After lunch, they come back and chitchat with their coworkers some more, not getting back into the job until 1:30 or 2:00 p.m.

I haven’t done anything extremely like this, but this hits a sore spot.

Chat tools are very useful, and if you have a hurry, you can get in touch faster than email. I think it’s good to use it in an emergency, but it’s not an urgent matter, but I think it’s common for a word that started with a light feeling to stand for tens of minutes before you know it.

start to communicate via chat (which may be peculiar to Japanese people), it is difficult to end and sometimes it continues. It can be painful to start from yourself and stop from yourself. Chatting isn’t bad, but it’s a good idea to refrain from the so-called Chit Chat category that is also mentioned in this book.

By raising your own productivity and at the same time thinking the productivity of others increase productivity more effectively.

This book is written in very plain English, so if you have interests and time, I recommend you to read it.

Thank you