development programming

The Fog

Agile is about the here and the now. The moment, turning on a sixpence as the weather, and the market changes. Adapting to your environment and delivering, delivering, delivering at a consistent high quality.

But what if you’re delivering the wrong thing?

It’s not just about the pivot, it’s about the plan and the dream. How can you decide between prioritising the mobile app or the chat interface unless you know where you’re going?

Yes, we prioritise, reschedule, re-evaluate constantly, and we only ever have a clear path for the next timebox, no matter how much our Gantt charts and managers persuade us otherwise.

But what are you doing next? Do you need to build your storage layer for SSDs or the cloud? Are you optimising for read throughput and fewer writes, or network performance and fewer reads?

Don’t let the immediate goal cloud your thinking. You may not be able to see clearly where you’re going in terms of detail, but you should be clear what direction you’re heading, where the big obstacles are, and who’s nearby.

Out there in the mists are the challenges, the gaps, the shortcuts and the dead-ends. Don’t shoegaze yourself into a corner.

Don’t forget, the feedback loops don’t stop at your retrospective intervals. Look up once in a while to make sure you’re on track.

4 replies on “The Fog”

Great post (as usual). While I agree with “and we only ever have a clear path for the next timebox” that does not mean there is a horizon at the end of the timebox that we can not see beyond. Simply that the further the distance, the less “clear” the items are, and the higher the probability of change during the interval from the present to that point.

Embracing this gradient is possibly one of the most challenging aspects for many organizations. They either overshoot [Gantt charts with fixed dates many months out] or undershoot [the only think on the product backlog is the current timebox items and maybe a few things for the next one].


Definitely agree. I’ve seen a lot of the Gantt chart problem, but I think myopic plans cause more problems, so I wanted to call them out. Fog doesn’t mean you can’t see ahead, it just means you see outlines rather than details.


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