- Recognize that Progress is Nonlinear: Recognize that software development is a nonlinear process, impossible to predict due to the complex nature of the work, and subject to ebbs and flows of energy and motivation. The process is more similar to writing a novel than it is working on a factory line. Failure to recognize this leads to unrealistic expectations and strained stakeholder relationships.
- Navigate the Business Goals vs. Timelines Paradox: Aiming for rigid timelines often backfires when the true business objectives are outcomes like growth and customer retention. Instead of a fixed n-month plan to redesign a website, opt for a flexible, iterative strategy that focuses on continuous improvement.
- Avoid Lazy Proxies: Replace timeline-based metrics with outcome-focused indicators to bridge the gap between perceived progress and real-world outcomes.
- Understand the Cost of Timelines: Overemphasis on timelines stifles innovation, fosters burnout, and undermines long-term productivity. Recognize and mitigate these costs.
- Shift to a Holistic Approach:
- Focus on Continuous Outcome Metrics: Evaluate success based on meaningful outcomes that align with business goals, rather than defaulting to time-based or task-based measures.
- Grant Autonomy and Flexibility: Let software developers work in ways that suit them best, and encourage them to work when they work best.
- Prioritize Well-being: Promote mental health. Focus on maximizing long-term productivity.
- Educate Stakeholders: Create realistic expectations around the nonlinear nature of development.
- Culture Shift: Transition from rigidity to flexibility. Traditional questions like "When can this be done by?" fall short in capturing the essence of value-driven development. Instead, stakeholders should be asking, "Is the team producing measurable value on a continuous basis that is aligned with our business goals?"
Reconciling Timelines in Business