Time waits for no one

Discussion on why estimating with hours is bad.

This has happens to all of us. You come in to work and turn on your computer. You open up your email to see what number of unread emails awaits you. Once you have managed to find you way through emails, you check your calendar. First thought that comes to mind, is wow, a fun packed day of back to back meetings. They don’t overlap so everything should be ok. Turns out it’s not ok because you are 5-10 mins late for every meeting. How can that be? Two meetings ran late because other people came late so the meetings started late. One meeting ran late because there was no solid meeting agenda and the meeting just kept going. All the other meetings ran their full length but you don’t get to snap your fingers and arrive at the next meeting 2 floors down or on the other side of the building.

Estimating work in hours is just like having back to back to back to back meetings. There is no time to breathe. No consideration for context switching. No room for any adjustments. Especially no consideration for walking time to get to the next meeting. On paper it looks perfect, but at the end of the day things were a blur and you were late to meetings. At the end of the day you let the clock dictate what you schedule looks like and not what you think is the best.

Poor guy pays more attention to time than to what he wants to do.

Teams work in similar ways, when pushed for perfection on paper things don’t result the way you would think. That’s why you should keep things simple and easy to reference. Although it may be seen as a simple tactic, when teams buy into the goal and tell you what they can accomplish, it certainly has better outcomes in general. Check out our latest episode about how hours in estimating aren’t as beneficial as you would think.

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Carry Over Trap

Podcast about the carry over trap.
Running in a big crowd
Running from Capacity? Ouch, my knee hurts.

In the Carry Over Trap podcast we address problems that arise around carrying story points from sprint to sprint. In real life we face similar challenges. The most relevant topic that comes to mind is running. For those of you out there that run or workout this will help you make the connection.

Every so often, I commit to a running plan or goal that I want to achieve. If you want to try and do a half marathon or tri-workouts, there are plans out there that you can follow. For the first couple weeks the plans are relatively easy tasks to complete. As the weeks progress and your own work and life schedules compete for your time, your running or workout schedule slips. I’m sure you thought this before like me: “I can catch up by working out longer or run a little further tomorrow”. Eventually a day turns into days, and you are left wondering what happened. Usually I will end up overdoing the running part to catch up and injure my foot or knee. After a couple weeks to months I will have to start all over again. This is very relatable to sprints. Eventually everything that was supposed to be completed in previous sprints will burn through and the team will be left with a clean slate. The good news is that starting over in running and sprints can let your learn from the previous mistakes and avoid the problems that arose in the past. Our lastest episode tackles whether carry over is in fact always bad or is it okay in some cases. You can find the episode listed above. Below you will find a great short video that will talk about your future self taking on commitments you won’t be able to accomplish.

This episode is sponsored by MNRegister’s jobs page. MNRegister has the best local jobs, just for you! www.mnregister.com/jobs

Future us will know how to deal with the problem
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Capacity Planning Pitfalls

Listen to avoid pitfalls.
Coffee bean bag over flowing with beans that has already reach capacity.
Reached capacity to hold coffee beans

With Spring Training in full swing again, we thought we would touch on how pitch counts in baseball relate to capacity planning in Agile. We have this notion that most Major League Baseball starting pitchers are going to go out and pitch 7 inning every outing. Sounds like a great plan, right? With the rise of statistics and data in baseball, most pitchers are limted to 100 pitches to prevent injury. The result, most pitchers are pulled way before 7 innings. If you team has a power pitcher on the mound, you may see the star go 5 innings a outing. Often fans are rooting for pitches to stay out on the mound and continue to shut out the opponent. Pitchers who are asked to go out and pitch more than the standard 100 pitch count end up giving up more runs then expected or get injured. We will hear about new pitching stars appear without a pitch count, but in a few short years later their careers are shortened or their skillset diminish.

Baseball mound meeting with a pitcher to swap a different pitcher in.
This pitcher has reached his capacity before he was able to complete his goal. Poor guy.

In Agile you can make the same mistake with your own teams. Its easy to burnout your team or not accomplish what your team had hoped for. In this latest episode about Capacity planning pitfalls we will address common mistakes made on teams. Hopefully you will be able to take away some new tools for your teams. Below we found a short video where Al Leiter talk about the importance of the pitch count and how this impacted his own career.

Al Leiter talks about the importance of pitch counts
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Velocity Schmelocity

Medieval sprint planning.

They say that the velocity of an agile or scrum team is the Holy Grail for agile metrics. We think that velocity is cool but not that cool. King Arthur would be disappointed in us. Velocity is filled with false positives that we will discuss. Working with velocity is an art, not a science or simple math equation.

Podcast about using velocity for sprint planning and estimating a release date.