Agile

5 Wasteful Agile Practices You Need to Drop

Vidas Vasiliauskas ·

2019 - Present Co-founder and CEO @ Teamhood. 2015-2019 Head of software engineering department at Danske Bank. 2017-2018 Partner Associate Professor at Vilnius University. Lecturer of Software Architecture course 2011 - 2015 Managed numerous smaller IT teams at Prewise. Co-founder of RaveIT, Eylean, No Brakes Games Certified Agile product owner and practitioner. Managed large scale enterprise projects as well as launch of small startup products. MSc of Software Engineering at Vilnius University. Hobbies: Racing, MTB cycling, Windsurfing

wasteful Agile practices

Why Such a Dramatic Topic?

Like every status quo, Agile as well requires some critical thinking and revisiting of its practices. As a developer and project manager, I witnessed many wasteful agile practices from both sides. It is an opinionated and personal experience-driven post. But hear me out, I will provide reasons behind every point. This topic has been for some time on my radar since post about no sprints and no estimations. Here, I present the 5 most wasteful Agile practices

1. Estimating Work Items 💩

Sparking a discussion on how to do things or how much effort will it take is a valuable discovery step. BUT, you do not need to do estimations for that. Estimating work for predictability/expectation management is a false promise. It does not matter whether it will take 3 points or 5 pregnant cats. The outcome matters. You can save time and reinvest it for better refining so once you get going, you have reduced risks of getting blocked. At the end of the day, you will finish work faster than you would have if you did estimations. So what’s the point?

2. Doing Sprints (Planning, Tracking, Closing) 💩

Sprints are a way to limit work in progress. It is a valid technique, but if your team can work without timeboxes, why spend time on ceremonies associated with timeboxes? Doing refinement or planning just in time is better, in my opinion, because it lowers the stress level. Doing just in time ensures that your brain cycles are focused on finishing work and then thinking about new work while doing current work. Again, I would rather invest time in refining what moves the needle toward our goals instead of doing sprint planning or sprint goal discussion. Goals are not short-term things, at least not 2-4 weeks. Kanban way of working can cover you on the structure if you need one.

3. Developing Long-term Roadmaps 💩

It is an important task to keep your vision straight and aligned with your goals. You just don’t need to have extensive or far-fetching roadmaps for that. If you have a quality goal(s), just keep learning while doing relevant work, and eventually, you will get smarter. This will also result in a different way of seeing things, which will finally result in a changed understanding what are the next best things to do to reach the goal. Developing a quality roadmap can take time, and at the same moment, your understanding changes, there is a high chance that the current roadmap is not the best path. So all that work becomes a waste.

4. Writing Extensive Specification 💩

There is always a fine line between the right amount of specification and too much of specification. It’s a play of balance, but my rule of thumb is to start as small as possible. Do the refinement and discuss it with your team. Capture only the most important points. If you are in the development business, this is even more important. Once you learn by doing, you change your understanding and can make a far better decision. Iterate while you iterate… 🤯

5. Maintaining Large Backlogs 💩

It is the same as keeping old broken things, just in case you might need spare parts later. If you have a shed, great, just push everything there. The same goes for the backlog. There is no value in ageing backlog items. Each time you review the backlog, you will need to go through it time and time again. What a waste of your time! My rule of thumb is usually to look for aging items and delete them. The backlog needs refinement as well. Putting something for later is the weak choice, deleting is the right one, you are not going to do it anyway. 🤪

Outro

These are my top wasteful Agile practices. There are biases and specifics in the way we work at Teamhood, take everything with a fine grain of salt. The goal is to make your brain rethink Agile mantras. I also have a full post on how we stopped doing sprints.

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