Agile Principle 8 – Constant Pace of Development

Posted on February 11, 2011 by


Sprint or marathon?  100 meters, 5k or 26.2?  Slow endurance or high intensity interval workout (HIIT)?  Anaerobic or aerobic?  Rare combination of talent like Michael Johnson (pictured) who excelled at the 200 and 400 meters?

Michael Johnson

Freaky fast and smooth - Michael Johnson, gold medalist - 200 and 400 meters

If Agile were a workout it would seem to fit in the sprint, 100 meter, high intensity, anaerobic side of exercise approaches.  Yet the premise of the manifesto is that the high intensity,  continuous development cycle, whether using 28 day SCRUMs, Paired Programming or Featured Driven Development, is also sustainable.  Shocking?  No.

As I’ve learned in my own exercise discipline and pursuit of endurance events (over 20 marathons and working up to iron man triathlon, see CoachDaveK ), short burst, high intensity training often builds the best strength/stamina/endurance base.  It can be sustained.  Key to this approach is pacing, occasional rest breaks and focus.

For both Agile and exercise, the benefits of a constant, high intensity cycle are:

  • Improved feedback with the customer
  • Decrease risk of scope creep within a release
  • Increased Time to Market (TTM)
  • Avoiding analysis paralysis.
  • Focus, focus, focus.

The intensity in Agile can only be maintained with active support and direction from the entire organization.  Buy must exist at all-levels.  For example if an important feature is needed in day 27 of release, rather than stall that release, the release is permitted to go forward and that feature is included in the next one.  Easier said than done sometimes, but absolutely vital!

Agile processes promote sustainable development.
The sponsors, developers, and users should be able
to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.

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