Does your team struggle and miss deadlines?

Maybe they can't give realistic estimates or worse, they burn out trying to meet deadlines that were never realistic in the first place?

In this week's Project: Ignite session, we discovered how a lack of predictability can often lead to over commitment and missed deadlines.

A team's failure to be predictable makes it impossible to estimate large projects and commit to the right amount of work.

And this can brew some serious burnout with the team or even mistrust with stakeholders and customers when we fail to meet our commitments.

At Institute Agility, our coaches have helped dozens of teams who struggle to estimate forecast and paint a realistic picture of what can be done until it's too late.

We know how frustrating it is to find your team forced to work nights and weekends just to meet hard dates that we didn't know were unrealistic until far too late.

There are many well known techniques to foster predictability with your team.

Most of these are familiar to us, WIP limits and forecasting, relative sizing and even dependency visualization, but there are pitfalls to each of these practices.

If you fail to understand four important parts to each tool, you've got to have buy-in, there are predecessors, there are anti patterns and you have to look for the outcomes.

With buy in, if you don't have the right buy in from the right audience, it can be challenging to implement the practices.

Your teams need to believe that a practice is vital to their success.

I have seen so many teams with outdated and incomplete dependency maps because the team never bought in to believe that a dependency map was needed in the first place.

Anti patterns are behaviors that signal your team is not getting the outcomes that the practice promises. Involving the team when we set due dates is a great way to foster transparency.

However, if the team shows the anti pattern of padding these dates with inflated estimates, we're no closer to predictability. We've just shifted from being unpredictable and always late to never accurate and unable to plan and we're no closer to being predictable.

These tools have predecessors or prerequisites. Forecasting is a great way of predicting trouble. But without velocity where I'm able to forecast and see how our work is shaping out in the next few sprints.

Outcomes. If we don't understand that the outcomes are what we're really looking for with these practices, they're just that empty practices that have no purpose.

About the Author

Passionate about people—Michelle’s greatest joy is to revive, rebuild, and develop individuals and teams rallied around core values and proven methods.

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