The simplest illustration of the benefits of focus must be this one – clearly illustrating that if we focus on _and finish_ one feature (or project) at a time then all 3 features are delivered quicker.
Agile emphasises delivering value sooner – in order to generate revenue, create lessons and validate assumptions.
- In the ‘current situation’ all three features are started as soon as they are requested – but none are finished until near the end.
- Focusing on one at a time means that A and B are delivered value sooner in the second example
- However, many studies (e.g. in Tom DeMarco and Tim Lister’s book ‘PeopleWare’) show that there is a real cost in switching between tasks.
Therefore, assuming a saving of only 10% – we see that all three features are delivered significantly sooner. This is not just a marginal gain, it could translate into weeks of additional sales.
As well as the benefit of earlier value and lessons – don’t underestimate the energising effect on a team that delivering A, and knowing it’s in the hands of users, can bring. Focus increases the ‘realness’ of the work and sense of achievement and recognition that the team.
Focus also means more collaboration within the team, which can only bring a better solution – creatively built from multiple perspectives.
The intuitive assumption is that the sooner we start something the sooner we finish it…
… the real challenge is how to adjust the behaviour that’s driven by this assumption, which often recurs at every level of the organisation.