Technical Leader

Making Decisions in Small Iterations

Earlier this year the New York Jets announced they had hired Rex Ryan as the new head coach. I have personally meet Rex on a couple of occasions so I have followed along and read many articles and comments about Rex’s decision. One gentleman in particular criticized for leaving the Ravens so quickly after the season was over; he felt as though the decision was made too hastily.

I have read about the different ways people react to circumstances, one way in classifying people is by using the DISC assessment. There are plenty of people which reside in the conscientious, meaning they will take in all sides to a story and put careful thought into what their decision is going to be. As you can obviously tell, this doesn’t play out to well for somebody in leading a professional football team. They will need to make quick decisions, otherwise, the game will be over … and probably their career. Rex knows the business of football tremendously better than any of us (I’m sure some people out there will debate that thought), and he knows exactly what he wants. He doesn’t need to take time to make a decision, he already knows what he is going after. It isn’t all that difficult to know what to do when you know what you are going after.

With Agile development this seems to carry over, the team has a common goal and we all are quick to make a decision, if we do not like what we have decided upon, then we will make another. By having small (one week) iterations this is possible and it allows us to identify the pain and adjust for it accordingly.

When I first heard about having one week iterations, I thought somebody had lost their mind. I didn’t feel as though much of anything could be accomplished. On the contrary it is very apparent of the progress getting made. We are also quick to make a decision for the sole reason of not having to live with the side effects for very long if something is not working.

Retrospectives also play a key role in this, as other team members bring to light a pain point which I was oblivious to. The reasons for myself not noticing these things are many, one of the more common is simply because they are at a different place in the project than I am. They are ahead of the pack and before I continue on and begin to feel the same pain, they identify the problem and a decision is made of what to do. On occasion a previous decision made in an earlier iteration is noted as not working as expected, we are then able to adapt quickly and change to get our work environment productive.