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Agile Principle Part 8: Sustainable Development

by Ken Rickard

Dec 11, 2017

Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely

Sustainable is defined as "Able to be maintained at a certain rate or level". It's kinda like average miles per gallon (mpg) on your car. Driving too aggressively will lower your mpg rate, and you'll burn more employee capital. Alternatively going slow will increase your mpg, but it could also make you "lose" the competition. Finding the optimum speed is the best of both worlds.

Let's break this principle down...

Sustainable for Sponsors - Project sponsors can help contribute to a sustainable pace by making sure ideas for a product are identified in a timely manner, and priority has been identified to deliver the best value first. They will need intimate knowledge of their product's target audience and the initial desired functionality. As the product is used it will evolve, and business priorities will change often as well. Keeping a healthy amount of work ready for development will help keep the pace.

Sustainable for Users - Users can contribute to a sustainable pace by providing feedback on their usage of a product. The life blood of any great product is the users because they provide "boots on the ground" information about the perceived value of a product. A development team can say they have built a great product, but the users are the real judge of value... And they vote with their usage.

Sustainable for Developers - Developers can contribute to a sustainable pace by having good development practices and standards. Maybe they have incorporated automation practices for QA and deployment. Sustainable could be equated with consistency, which reduces risk. Lower risk adds to the odds of being more sustainable.

Sustainable Development - If your product is in its infancy or teenage years, the sponsors and users should be keeping the pace of work consistent for the development team by adding incremental enhancement request regularly. Then the developers can work through those request like a funnel controls the amount of liquid added to a container. Consistently prioritizing to make sure the high value work goes through the funnel first.

Indefinitely - Keeping a sustainable pace indefinitely is the best way to generate value as it not only keeps you from over doing it, but it also keeps you from under doing it, which is just as important.

Additionally, once a team has worked in a sustainable pace environment long enough, they start to hit their stride. Keeping them together as long as possible and just keep feeding them new work, even from new projects and systems, you can take advantage of their potential to become a high performing team. Like a combat tested Seal Team. Something all teams should have as their ultimate collaborative goal.

This 12 part series was published by Ken Rickard on LinkedIn Pulse, to read the original version of this blog click hereTo read the entire 12 part series, click here for a table of contents. 

Interested in learning more about the Agile Methodology or incorporating it into your business? Contact a representative at CCG by emailing or call (813) 265-3239.