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The Simplest Way To Get More Done Is To Do Less

doingnothingSoftware developers, testers, analysts and managers are known to be detail oriented. We need to know exactly what needs to be done so we can devise and implement software algorithms. We need answers to detailed questions so we can make the right implementation decisions.

Meanwhile, business people don’t always have all the answers. This is particularly true for new business initiatives. These are often experimental. They represent learning opportunities. If the business teams had all the answers, would they need high-caliber (that is, expensive) software people?

Business Really Matters

I work with multiple business groups. They often ask for new data elements or new software algorithms. Sometimes they know exactly what they want and what they’ll do with the information. Other times, they only have a rough idea. The actions they’ll take after seeing the results depend on the results they see. The analysis will, in turn, generate new requests for the software team.

These situations are more common than not. Running a business is not an exact science. It demands flexibility and rapid responsiveness. Whenever I direct questions to the business stakeholders and receive answers that are vague or general, I work with the development team to assure that the software can flex with the business.

For example, if someone tells me that are interested in data elements within a broad range of values, I’ll make sure the range can be changed by simply editing configuration parameters. If someone gives me a list of data elements, I’ll make sure the list can be changed by updating a configuration table.

Does your team seek out ways to do less?

Part of being agile is designing software for change. These types of configuration changes should be normal operating procedure. They aren’t technical changes and don’t require change management or backlog grooming.

Take a look at your backlog. Look for ways to combine stories or eliminate the need for some of them entirely. Doing less is a perfectly valid way to deliver more. The alternative is to slow down the business and that’s a dreadful outcome.

photo credit: Brett Jordan via photopin cc

Updated: March 10, 2013 — 8:50 pm

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