In a recent iteration planning session we realised that we had so many stories that we really, really wanted to complete that we committed to delivering far more work than was. We were in high spirits having just spent a week “offsite” setting up our themes and goals for the year. We were keen to deliver on all these wonderful things. We looked at the estimates and thought that it looked very ambitious and started trying to timebox some of the tasks (with a plan to review them after the timebox to see if we’d carry on the story to completion) to see if we could get the numbers somewhere even close to what our velocity suggested we normally achieve. In the end, we managed to convince ourselves that if the wind was behind us, and the moon was in the correct phase, then maybe it was just possible to achieve all that we wanted in the iteration.

Can you guess what happened ?

I ended up being off sick for a full week with tonsillitis, additional support work came in, the timeboxed stories ran past their timeboxes, we kept cutting code past the point where it was sensible to stop since we kept thinking that another 10 minutes would sort it out…and yes, in the end our release ended well short of the planned scope with the whole team burned out and 1 day late. Disappointment all round.

Today we’re planning the next iteration (and of course, holding a retrospective). I shall be replacing the rose-tinted glasses I must have been wearing when we commited to the previous iteration with the cold, harsh glasses of reality and we’ll not be committing ourselves to any unachievable goals.