In 1876, at the urging of Samuel Plimsoll, the British government passed into law the requirement for maritime vessels to have established, and displayed, a ‘Plimsoll Mark’. This is a visible indicator on the hull of aship that the harbor master can verify that the ship is not overloaded, forseaworthiness. You can imagine the number of fatalities that were incurred over the previous several hundred years as a result of ship overloading.In much the same way, we as agile teams, work diligently to understand and establish our ‘Plimsoll Marks’. This comes by way of many of the interactions, artifacts, and methods we employ.
The daily scrum: a subjective barometer reading of sorts; allowing everyone on the team to understand if ‘new cargo’, or surprise cargo has been found.
Burndown chart: an objective barometer reading that discerns the difference between the course we are on, and how far until we ‘reach port’.
Sprint planning: a good understanding of the ‘what’, with the ability to take a deeper look under the covers before finalizing your ‘bill of lading’.
Velocity: a record of ‘successful deliveries’, to set the mark against for future trips.
Sprint Review: a process review the condition of, and the delivery of the cargo (ensuring it’s the right cargo).
Sprint Retrospective: a process review on how the voyage went, and how to make it smoother sailing next time.
Without these measures in place, for decades, project teams have been a casualty of their own planning, projects, and expectations. It is for this fact alone, that makes Agile a successful endeavor; by putting planning into the hands of the team, and conveying realistic expectations (clearly displaying their team-based Plimsoll Mark) to the business and customer.
Who needs a paintbrush?