It’s that time of year when the majority of us are thinking about our New Year’s resolutions or goals. A lot of us will decide not to set any New Year’s resolutions because we know we will just fail (and then feel guilty). On the other hand, we need goals and we want to do better. We don’t want everyone to think we’re New Year’s snobs and we just don’t have anything to improve upon.
What should you do? Well, I kind of like Robby Russell’s Agile New Year’s Plan. I don’t pretend to understand the tech talk and I’m certainly not well versed in the Agile method (beyond the most basic understanding). The fundamentals I take from Agile are:
- Short iterations (2 to 4 weeks)
- Shippable product at the end of each iteration
- An acceptance that the project may change directions many times as needs change
I’m not 100% onboard with Robby’s post because it sounds like he’s only concerned about the iterations and doesn’t really have an overall project. Let’s view your New Year’s Resolution as a project, in business terms this is the end result the client is hiring you for. Maybe that’s not in keeping with Agile, but it would seem most purchasers at least have a vague idea of what they want you to accomplish. Using the Agile method, you would have an overarching promise to the client that we’re going to build you something that accomplishes some fundamental thing… that’s your resolution, your goal. What is the basic thing you want to accomplish this year? Remember, it doesn’t have to be too specific because you want to be able to change directions. If you lock yourself in too tightly, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Okay, you have your New Year’s resolution. The next step is where the Agile method will help you. It’s all well and good to have a resolution, but how are you going to achieve it? Easy peezy, manage the project through iterations (short-term projects). Set up your first iteration for 4 weeks. What are you going to do in the next 4 weeks that will help you get to your end goal? Remember, you must have something specific to show for your work at the end of 4 weeks. Now, set up a meeting with yourself (or management team if it’s a business goal) for the first week of February. At that time, review the results of your efforts and make a plan for your next iteration. Repeat.
The basic idea here is we don’t know what’s going to happen this year that will throw us off track. However, we can more reasonably control and predict the very near future and adjust as needed. And of course, the old adage, what get’s measured gets managed applies too.
Apologies to all programmers if my interpretation of the Agile method isn’t completely accurate. Feel free to correct me, preferably in laymen’s terms, and tell us how you think the Agile method should be applied to goals and resolutions.
Happy New Year!