The “focus on business value” pillar (version 1)

Part of a series on the seven pillars of a good Agile team

There’s no need for us to put on airs. Agile work is piecework. We’re like furniture makers who deal with an unending (we hope!) stream of special orders, each one being a fairly small job. Each job has to be worth it for the buyer: she has to consider the finished job worth more than she paid for it.

A team with a proper focus on business value has the right skills to do piecework. It is a reliable, predictable partner for the business.

Some evidence of good focus

  • In a given iteration, the team commits to a particular set of stories. It’s surprising when they fail to deliver on that commitment.

  • The team’s velocity (amount of work they did per iteration) stays roughly the same from iteration to iteration.

  • Individual story estimates tend to be right. (On average it really takes twice as much time to do ‘2′ stories as ‘1′ stories, and that average isn’t achieved because the ‘2′ stories turn out to be size ‘1′ half the time and size ‘3′ the other half.)

  • Done means done. After a finished story is accepted by the business, everyone should be surprised and disappointed if it has to be revisited because something that was intended to work doesn’t. (This doesn’t include cases where seeing the finished work made the business change its mind—that counts as a new story.)

  • The product could be put before end users at the end of each iteration.

  • The team builds only what’s required for each story. (They’ve gotten beyond the need to complete infrastructure before features can be built upon it.)

  • Problems (such as wildly broken estimates) are discovered quickly, so that the business has enough time to react.

  • In product conversations, you don’t hear people giving more priority to technical desires than to business value.

One Response to “The “focus on business value” pillar (version 1)”

  1. Exploration Through Example » Blog Archive » The Seven Pillars of an Agile Team: Introduction Says:

    […] Focus on Business Value […]

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