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157796Re: [XP] Story sizes and productivity gains

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  • RonJeffries
    Jun 21, 2012
      Hi Paul,

      On Jun 21, 2012, at 2:27 PM, Paul Epps wrote:

      > Downey described the purpose with this user story: AS A Scrum Product Owner who is trying to evaluate the efficacy of the product directions I have chosen, I NEED a reliable way to measure the increased value
      > contribution of the Team sprint-over-sprint SO THAT I can compare the Team's rate of value contribution increase to the changes in revenue we are generating and adjust our direction if the value isn't being realized.

      That strikes me as ... how can I put this nicely ... overly indirect. It's a red herring.

      I suspect the real purpose of wanting to know this is to "measure" how hard the team is working and how much they are accomplishing. This is a cost focus. Scrum projects are supposed to have a value focus: the PO is responsible for producing the highest possible value by the deadline. This is done quite simply: have the highest value possible in every Sprint.

      The team is producing valuable stories at some rate. The PO's job is to select them so as to have the best possible value at every moment in time. If the stories are all the same "size", and the team is doing quality work (suitable testing and design improvement), the flow of work will be perfectly clear: you can draw a line to see how many more stories will be done.

      If and when the team improves, the stories they can do in two days will be discernibly "larger". Everyone who is paying attention will notice this and take it into account when guessing how much they'll get done.

      BUT THIS IS NOT IMPORTANT, because the PO always has the highest possible value attainable at the current moment, in potentially shippable form.

      If the revenue potential of an idea is anywhere near the cost of the team building it, it is an incredibly bad idea and well past time to stop investing in the product. Therefore, at any moment in time, the PO can pick up her most favorite story and say to herself "This will bring in $11,000 in revenue and the team costs me $10,000 per Sprint. Screw this, time to get a better idea."

      Hyperproductivity is a marketing idea made up by Jeff Sutherland to sell Scrum. It does exist, more or less. Teams doing good Scrum will get more done than they used to -- usually because they used to get nothing done. Nonetheless, this is a cost-based measure and is therefore inferior to managing by choosing valuable things to do.

      Relatedly, Arlo Belshee has some evidence that choosing the most valuable thing no matter what it costs (within reason, I suppose) is a better strategy than considering the value/cost ratio.

      Bottom line, cost focus is a danger sign in a Scrum / Agile project.

      Ron Jeffries
      If another does not intend offense, it is wrong for me to seek it;
      if another does indeed intend offense, it is foolish for me to permit it.
      -- Kelly Easterley

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