Celebrate Early and Often
I’ve always believed in the motto “that calls for treats” (can you say new person treats?) Now I admit, some of this is pure selfishness – I just can’t resist Panera‘s Cinnamon Crunch Bagel but I am also doing my part to keep up team morale (who can be grumpy while eating a doughnut?) Anyway, I bring this up for a reason. I’ve had an odd career when it comes to, ahh, shipping. Truth be told, I’ve only had a couple of my applications make it to production (and one happened after I had left the team – and no, it wasn’t me…) so I’ve only gotten to partake in one true “release party.” Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the free pizza, but somehow, it left me hollow; seems to me, we need to celebrate more often!
I’ve spoken about rhythm before and I can’t stress its importance to the sanity of a software team. If you’ve been on a death march before…you know how evil they really are. Let’s show off my range – how about a non-software example? It’s only February and I’m sure more than a few people are clinging diligently to that resolution about dropping some weight. Let’s say you want to lose 25 pounds – if you focus on the 25 what happens after you’ve lost 5? Are you motivated to keep going or are you downtrodden that you still have 20 more to go? To be successful, you’ve got to chunk the goal up and celebrate the baby steps! Software isn’t any different. Finish that cool new Ajax widget? Great, bring in some pie! Finally approved that functional spec? Heck, the boss should spring for pizza!
I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a pretty short attention span (hey, what’s that – over there?) so if I try to think about everything that my team has to do before our next release, I’ll just cry. That said, I can feel pretty good about clearing some of the low hanging fruit. Short iterations are one of the real strengths (though they have their drawbacks too…) of the agile movement, one that is often lost in the talk of user stories and pair programming. The next time you accomplish something – celebrate (and don’t forget to invite me)! Not only will your developers thank you, it might just improve your product’s quality. Of course you could just go to Waterfall 2006 instead.