Give your team the permission to overperform

Rescue from Elephant Island, Shackleton’s Endurance expedition, 1916

“They didn’t know it was impossible, so they did it”

– Paul Bourget

If you follow certain agile methodologies to the letter – namely points estimating all the work, and only assigning a certain amount of points to each engineer in the sprint – you give your team members an ‘upper bound’ on what is expected of them.

Yes, these techniques can help you gain in predictability, but they can also instil an ‘overly comfortable’ pace of development in the team.

If you are at a stage of prioritising speed over predictability, for instance because you are building a new product and don’t yet have external commitments, it’s worth avoiding points estimation/capacity planning altogether, and not setting upper bounds.

Encourage those who want to do more that they should. Publicly celebrate this ‘overperformance’, and inspire others to have this level of impact. There’s nothing wrong with it!

“If you want something done, ask a busy person”

– Ben Franklin

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