The Agile Manifesto has important things to say throughout for any time of year. As Agilists we should seek to embody it whenever we can. We should allow it to guide our thinking, decisions, and actions at work.
While the Values are at the core of the manifesto, the 12 principles are important to know as well. This time of year is a good time to focus on one part in particular, sustainable pace.
The actual text from Agilemanifesto.org is:
Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
Because I believe Agile principles and practices can apply outside of software development I like to think of sustainable pace versus sustainable development. They should be thought of as having the same meaning.
Classic software development is thought of having a “death march” at the end. This has been true for some teams in the past, but is not a given. The idea of the march is that a large amount of stuff is butting up against a final deadline and has to be working no matter what. The causes are varied and not relevant to this post, but that it happens is.
In Agile we make small bits at a time. There can be no death march because there is no large deliverable to slowly creep to a long away deadline. There is a deadline coming soon, and a small amount of stuff to be done by then. Right after that will be another near-term deadline with a small amount of stuff to be done by then. If there is a “mini death march” as we come up on one deadline, less stuff is promised for the next deadline.
One advantage is sustainability. By eliminating the death march we save our people and allow them to perform better more often. Without a death march looming over them the people on the tea will have no problem continuing to deliver.
During the holidays that need for sustainability becomes stronger. People are under stress from outside influences. Their friends and family are demanding a little more time than they normally would. Their ability to commit at work may be impacted. An Agile mindset allows us to continually adjust our commitment and maintain sustainability for every member of the team.
Do you account for outside factors as you plan future iterations? How could you start?