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Tim Ottinger @tottinge
, 28 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
A: How long is a story point in real time?
B: How many did you do in your last sprint?
A: 23
B: Then, for you, it's a 23rd of a sprint
A: But the time before that it was 19
B: Then for you at the time it was 1/19th of a sprint.
A: But how long is it really?
B: We answered that.
A: but my next sprint needs to be 30 points.
B: What has changed to make a point be 1/30th of a sprint?
A: We need it to be.
B: Then improve something significantly.
A: Can we just try harder?
B: There is no evidence that works.
A: Then story points aren't useful.
B: We could have started with that agreement.
A: Let's use real hours then!
B: Not better.
A: Then how can I get my 30-point velocity?
B: what if there isn't a way? Maybe you need to need less?
A: but the schedule....!
B: The schedule is made up. How long it takes is real.
A: the schedule is a best guess, but there is a real promise behind it.
B: how does that effect the rate at which things can be done?
A: can I put more people on it?
B: maybe, but cf Brook's Law
A: wait a second... You never actually said we can't go faster. You only said that trying harder and adding people weren't the way.
B: yes, you are right.
A: so we could go faster?
B: certainly
A: So how can we get the developers to work harder?
B: Take away their tools. Add more bureaucracy. Use slow computers and dead programming languages.
A: And that will bring up the velocity?
B: No. You asked how to make their work harder.
A: We want them to work harder so that we get more done.
B: To accomplish more, don't you need the work to be less hard?
A: We just want it done.
B: So do they.
A: so how can we actually deliver functionality faster?
B: Ah, not that is a quality question. How long does it take now?
A: Forever. We need developers to speed up.
B: What % of lead time is represented by developers' cycle time?
A: I don't want to deal with lead time. Can we focus on developer cycle time?
B: Of course, but you may not be working at the bottleneck, so it may be wasted.
A: I want to talk about developers.
B: Okay. As long as you are aware it may be pointless.
A: I want a velocity of 30. Quit distracting me and tell me how to get that.
B: You know that a 19-point sprint means that one point is 1/19th of a sprint?
A: I remember
B: So you want your features to be 1/30th of a sprint now. Make them 1/30th of a sprint in size and scope.
A: If I make my feature a 30th of a sprint long, then the feature will be tiny.
B: Yes. 1/30th of a sprint long.
A: But I want to do big things.
B: Then you will get fewer of them per fixed-length period.
A: Why can't I get more 1/19th sized things done per iteration?
B: How many gallons fit in a 5-gallon bucket?
A: But I we get 23 points now, and they're as big as the 1/19th sized ones.
B: That has two possible explanations.
A: What is the first explanation
B: That they're assigning more points to same-sized work: inflation.
A: Why would they do that?
B: Either that these had large risks that didn't materialize or else Goodhart's law.
A: I don't like the "larger numbers" explanation. What is the alternative?
B: They've developed skills and techniques that make it easier to do the work now.
A: How do I know if that's true?
B: Have you spoken with them?
A: I've told them how important it is that they go faster. What else do you want me to tell them?
B: I shouldn't have said spoken. I meant "asked and listened."
A: If it is important, shouldn't they just tell me?
B: They've gone from 19 to 23 & you don't know why.
A: I assumed that they went from 19 to 23 because they're working harder.
B: Yes, you did.
A: You have said several times that something has to change for work to be done faster. Skills and stuff to make the work easier. Is that the right way?
B: If the bottleneck is actually in development, it will help.
A: Let's assume the bottleneck is development. What do we change?
B: Whatever makes it difficult or risky now.
A: How do we know what that is, or what to do instead?
B: Experiment. Some changes help, some not.
A: We can't afford to do that. I told you our schedule is tight. Can we only do things that work and not waste time?
B: If you can't afford to experiment & learn, you can't improve. Do the best you can with the velocity you have. Order work by value. Descope.
A: We can't descope. We can't miss the date. We can't experiment. What else do you have?
B: Fail as well as you can. Give the best result you possibly can, considering that you'll fail.
A: Is that all?
B: No. Remember development may not be the bottleneck.
A: If I understand what you're saying, you feel we need to change our process if we want more to be done, instead of pushing harder.
B: Indeed.
A: And that the changes we make are specific to our organization and process, where our bottlenecks are?
B: Indeed.
A: And that the changes we'll make will be experimental, not certain?
B: Indeed.
A: So you don't really know how to help us?
B: Not so. I just don't know the specific prescription for you in advance.
A: Where would you start then?
B: I would look for the bottleneck.
A: Great. When you find the people slowing us down, we can fire them.
B: No. People are not the bottleneck. People are working AT the bottleneck.
A: So we should change the system around the bottleneck instead?
B: Yes. cf. Deming, Ohno, Goldratt, Poppendeik, etc.
A: Surely the people at the bottleneck are under a lot of stress, and unwilling to change.
B: Under stress, certainly.
A: Is there a general prescription for going about change then?
B: Yes. But it is 4-parts
A: Okay, let's do the first one then.
B: No. It's 4 parts, not 4 steps. All simultaneously.
A: What are the steps?
B: Make People Awesome, Make safety a prerequisite, experiment and learn rapidly, and Deliver Value Continuously.
B: And you realize they're not steps, right? You can't do them in order, ticking them off as one-and-done?
A: You said that, I'm just used to plans with steps. I misspoke.
B: It's okay. I just needed to be sure you understand.
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