Reflection on Principle 10 — Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount of work not done — is essential.
This article is part of 12 agile principles in 12 sprints blog series.
“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is, nothing left to take away” — Antoine de Saint-Exupery
This the only agile principle called an art, why it is necessary to maximize the amount of work not done?
More software is not always a good thing despite what developers think. As Jeff Patton said — “Your job isn’t to build more software faster: it’s to maximize the outcome and impact you get from what you choose to build”. And here lies the point. To maximize the outcome and impact, the team needs to maximize the work not done. Identifying things that do not add value and things that do is an art. This can have a significant impact on the product development and delivery.
To practice this principle, we decided to
- Breakdown long meetings into smaller more focused meetings. Small and frequent planning sessions throughout the sprint
- More collaboration between the developers keeping ‘simple design’ as the main focus
- Backlog refinement to exclude any work that is not important
- Review each user story with an aim to simplify features if possible
- Create a list of things for ‘work not done bucket’ to review at Sprint retrospective
- Reduce context switching as much as possible by reducing interruptions. Control the necessary interruptions better
- Ask a question every time we make a decision — Are we adding value by doing this
After two weeks, we have seen a noticeable improvement in the team’s delivery. We improved our velocity and achieved more goals
As an example, list of things we end up not doing
- We simplified the design of GPS tracking for a feature in a mobile app. This meant that the feature got implemented with less work
- We re-evaluated and simplified the design approach for features for Mobile app and on the Web. The initial approach was to have two separate applications with different UI/UX. We decided to have one application catering for both Mobile and Web by using IONIC materials still having different UI/UX for the two platforms. This was a significant decision to reduce a significant amount of work.
- We dropped a delete functionality for one of the features as it was not adding any extra value
- Spent less time in long meetings with more focused and smaller meetings
The extra focus on this principle does help the team to be careful of the decisions they make. Mastering this skill can improve the team agility and produce better results.