Wednesday, September 29

Endless Iterations

S ome time ago I sat in on two iteration meetings for an adjacent team. There was a possibility that I would join the team on a part time basis, a possibility that never eventuated.

The project they were working on was fairly far along. They claimed they were using extreme programming, they claimed that they were agile, they claimed that they were using two week iterations. However
  • The team were not asked to commit to completing the tasks scheduled the iteration planning meeting.
  • The instead of scheduling based on the historical progress of the team in previous iterations the capacity of the iteration is simply assumed to be 80 hours times the number of developers.
  • Deflects arising from tasks failing acceptance tests were saved for the end of the release, leading to a final test and fix phase.
  • Instead of using rolling wave planning and progressive elaboration all stories were assigned to an iteration during the release planning phase.
-->There was no ceremony or activity to close the iteration (no demonstration of completed functionality, no interim retrospective), the uncompleted tasks were just moved to the next iteration and the new iteration planning meeting commenced.
There was no learning in this process. Any mistakes made during one iteration were repeated during the next. Any lessons learned forgotten in the mad dash to grind out tasks.

The point of time boxing is to
  •  provide risk management 
  •  limit the amount of time consumed by a task.
  •  habituate the team to meet deadlines.
  •  prevent endless chasing of sunk costs.
None of these objectives were being met. 
They were continually starting but never finishing

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