Skip to content

Fooling Myself with False Velocity

April 21, 2008 by JurgenAppelo

Writing2I'm an idiot, I have fooled myself. I'm usually quite good at fooling others, but this time I have fooled myself. And I did it with what I might call a false velocity.

Velocity Defined
Velocity is the rate at which you complete your work, in a certain period of time. This might refer to the number of stories completed, the number of issues processed, the number of exams passed, the number of kilometers driven, the number of hamburgers baked and served, or (for some guy I know) the number of girls dated and dumped.

The Velocity of Writing a Book
I might have mentioned earlier that I'm trying to write a book. It's a book about managing software development, and the things we can learn from complexity science. Last year I did a lot of research, a tremendous effort that will continue to the end of this year. And I started writing my first pages of text in January this year. I am planning to write around 350 pages in 1.5 years, which equals to an average of 5 pages per week. After 15 weeks I have completed 75 pages of text, which is... 5 pages per week! It's exactly the velocity I need to finish the book as scheduled. Right?

Wrong!

Last week I came to realize that I still haven't finished the latest book that I had picked up two months ago. In fact, I still want to read another 15+ books that I consider essential for my project. It now appears that my writing is on schedule simply because I have been neglecting my reading! I have deluded myself. My velocity is all wrong!

The Trap of Measurements
I sometimes see people make a similar mistake in their software projects. It is the trap that people can fall into when measuring progress. People tend to optimize their work according to that what is being measured. And they tend to neglect what is not being measured. In my case, I measured the writing of pages of text. So that's what I did. I wrote pages of text. My measurements did not include finishing my research. So I neglected it. I fooled myself into thinking that I was on schedule. I'm an idiot.

Measure Everything!
In any software project you have to take care to measure everything that is essential in delivering a succesful product. If you measure only functionalities, you might neglect your work on quality stuff. And if you measure only story points, you might forget about time that must be spent on research, education or communication. I don't care if progress in your project requires issues processed, exams passed, kilometers driven, hamburgers baked, or girls dated and dumped. Measure everything that counts! Don't fool yourself as I fooled myself.

Note: I will not be bothering the readers of AgileSoftwareDevelopment.com with unrelated material. If you want to see more details of how things are turning out with my project, you can follow my efforts, hope and despair at Noop.nl.

Comments

Measure everthing that is essential?

April 28, 2008 by Ilja Preuß (not verified), 6 years 17 weeks ago
Comment id: 1525

The question then becomes whether you actually *can* measure everything that is essential, at reasonable cost. For an as complex activity as software development, I'm not convinced that the answer is "yes".

There is a different approach that would "solve" the problem you are addressing: don't use metrics in a motivating way, but just as an analysis tool. That is, don't use metrics in a way that hitting some specific value would be "good" or "bad". They are just information that needs to be assessed in the context of all those things that didn't get measured.

I quite good book on that topic is "Measuring and Managing Performance in Organizations".

Thanks

April 28, 2008 by JurgenAppelo, 6 years 17 weeks ago
Comment id: 1527

Thanks for the feedback. I will definately have a look at that book!

You're welcome!

May 2, 2008 by Ilja Preuß (not verified), 6 years 17 weeks ago
Comment id: 1534

:)

The bottom line for me is

March 22, 2012 by Anonymous (not verified), 2 years 23 weeks ago
Comment id: 21457

The bottom line for me is that the word in the name of the course should actually be applied to the quality of the course and the trainer, not to the 70-640 fact that the course alumni is automatically a specialist. I came to the conclusion that Certified Scrum Master courses provide 350-001 extremely consistent and comprehensive knowledge delivered by the experienced professionals and nothing more.

Wow...!

September 4, 2012 by Reading Glasses (not verified), 1 year 51 weeks ago
Comment id: 23724

Hi, Thank you so much for giving me some idea about writing velocity because I want to write some books but I have no idea about this. So thanks again.

Wow...!

September 5, 2012 by Miami Luxury Condos (not verified), 1 year 51 weeks ago
Comment id: 23735

If you want to be happy then make foolish to another then both of you feel happy.

Yeah..

November 10, 2012 by Copenhagen Sightseeing (not verified), 1 year 41 weeks ago
Comment id: 24566

Good one.. keep posting such nice articles..

CCTV drain survey London are

December 19, 2012 by london (not verified), 1 year 36 weeks ago
Comment id: 25208

CCTV drain survey London are becoming more and more necessary as many mortgage lenders are requiring them prior to the approval of loans. It is also very good practice if you are looking to buy any property if you want to avoid any expensive repair bills for blocked or collapsed drains. Of course leaking drains can cause more than damage to just themselves, permanent damage could also be inflicted on the foundations of the house also.
cctv drain surveys london
cctv surveys london
cctv drain surveys in London

Last week I came to realize

January 17, 2013 by Anonymous (not verified), 1 year 32 weeks ago
Comment id: 25775

Last week I came to realize that I still haven't finished the latest book that I had picked up two months ago. In fact, I still want to read another 15+ books that I consider essential for my project. It now appears that my writing is on schedule simply b
ecause I have been neglecting my reading! I have deluded myself. My velocity is all wrong!
katalog stron
http://www.e-zwd.pl
http://www.e-zawady.pl
katalog stron
katalog stron
katalog stron
katalog stron
katalog stron
katalog stron
katalog stron
artykuły do przedruku

mostafa

December 6, 2013 by شات (not verified), 38 weeks 1 day ago
Comment id: 30409

منتدى
منتديات
منتدى بحبو
منتدي
.........................................

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <b> <i> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <img> <br> <blockquote>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • You can enable syntax highlighting of source code with the following tags: <code>, <blockcode>. Beside the tag style "<foo>" it is also possible to use "[foo]".

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

Best of AgileSoftwareDevelopment.com