Friday, September 28, 2012

Agile Release Planning is not about the Plan...

The past week and a half, I have enjoyed working in France.  I have worked with 3 different companies, and a bunch of great people.

In the third class, we did a 2-day workshop.  The Workshop was mainly about agile release planning. With the real work of that company and those teams.

As with most people, some of the people were waiting. They wanted to wait to do the plan.  They wanted to wait until everything was known.  Until at least much more was known. And, as they know, the Plan would be better if they knew more.

This is a very normal human reaction. (And this group was not unusual in this way.)

But this is not the way of life.

Life changes, we learn.

We must always be changing the plan.  So, we do not do Agile Release Planning to have one Plan.  We start Agile Release Planning now, while we are relatively dumb, so that we can learn, so that we can discover what the plan will become.

And we want to discover that with the crazy human beings that we are working with (the Team) and working for (meaning: the customers).

I say 'crazy' in a most affectionate way.

Crazy in a nice way, crazy in an inexplicable way, crazy in an emotional way.  Crazy in far more ways than we have understood yet.  Because what it means to be human, to be a customer, a teammate, a friend, another stranger on the road…what it means to be this we still do not know.  The customers and the teammates are, for so many reasons, both good and bad, changing all the time.

So… we do some planning, relative quickly, and we ask our co-workers to work with us, and help us figure out what we are doing, and how we shall do it.

Lesson 1: We plan now, even with very imperfect information. And then we evaluate, and think about what we need to make a better plan.  And we do some of the work, and then we learn more, and re-plan.

Let me also add this.  Sometimes it can be true that, before taking a path, some things must be known. Or at least...if we choose one path wrongly, it may be hard to change paths later. So, we want to know more.  If you are convinced you have this type of situation, you have a much higher need for more information early.  So, use common sense.

But we caution you. At least with a software product, and with many other products, from experience we guess that you are again using one of the standard rationalizations for procrastination. "I need to know more first."  Analysis paralysis, as it is often called.  Almost surely, yes, review what you know now, but then learn from taking action.  The school of hard knocks is a wonderful teacher.


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