Sunday, April 30, 2017

Finally, once we become agile, all the planning goes away, doesn’t it?

No, it does not.

To quote a few things

“Responding to change over following a plan” --

The manifesto does not say “don't plan!”

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” - attributed to Dwight D. Eisenhower

The major difference between agile planning and old style planning is that agile planning doesn’t happen up front, but just in time.

In mathematics there is a concept of an inherent complexity of a term that remains constant. A friend of mine explained it to me many years ago, but I can’t find the “law” related to this topic on the net. The basic idea is that it is quite easy to make a formula more simple by –for example– introducing a formula sign for the integral, but the overall complexity of the term remains the same. Introducing the integral sign only moves the complexity to a different place.

What kind of planning

Something similar seems to be true for planning. Without having at least some kind of plan it is hard to keep a group of people marching in the same direction, so you have to plan at least a little bit. If you ever hiked in an area without roads and pathways you probably noticed that it is only possible to plan in detail for the stretch of the way that you can actually overlook, but without having an idea about your next major destination you might end up spending the night in the open without anything to eat or drink.
So there seem to be at least two kinds of planning going on. Whether you relate those two types of planning to ideas like release planning, iteration planning, and task planning or not is of course up to you. (Some people might also think about release planning, sprint planning 1, and sprint planning part 2. But please remember that not all agile is Scrum)

Now for the big question:

Who’s doing all this planning in agile?

Most of the time when adopting agile you get rid of the fact that other people plan your work. But the flipside is, that –most of the time– the whole team has to take on the responsibility for planning. All of them. So don’t think that getting rid of other people planning your work also means getting rid of planning itself. Agile is very much about common sense, but that doesn't make it easy. Inherently tough things stay tough.

So, what are your plans?

till next time
  Michael Mahlberg

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