Agile articles and info from our Agile Practice team

By: Damon Poole, Chief Agilist

What is a Sustainable Pace?

I recently ran a workshop at Agile 2013 on Oppression in the software/IT industry. Yes, oppression is a strong word and I’ll blog about that soon. While creating the session, I realized that “sustainable pace”, as mentioned in the Agile Manifesto is rather ambiguous. Sustainable from what perspective? Physically? Emotionally? Mentally? Financially?

The definition of sustainable pace that I think probably leaps to most people’s minds is 40 hours a week. But as a participant in the workshop pointed out, 40 hours of nail biting stress and tension a week is probably not sustainable. On the other hand, 80 hours a week doing something you love probably is sustainable. In any case, just saying “sustainable pace” is not enough.

Definition of Sustainable Pace

So, what’s a better definition? However you define it for your team! The takeaway on sustainable pace for me is that it is worth having a definition of sustainable pace just like it is worth having a definition of ready, definition of done, working agreement, process agreement, etc. My suggestion is that you get together with your team, draft one up, and post it in your team room and/or on you wiki. Make sure to include stakeholders such as the manager(s) of the team members and the product owner.

What’s your definition of sustainable pace? I’d love to hear it and I’m sure others would as well. Please post your definition in the comments. And here is the reference to sustainable pace in the Agile Manifesto:

“Agile processes promote sustainable development.¬†The sponsors, developers, and users should be able¬†to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.” – Agile Manifesto

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