I need some help.
Just so you know, I think Steve Jobs was a genius – an evil, psychopathic one, but nonetheless a genius.
Here's something he said, back in 1996, after his return to Apple. He said, 'I'm as proud of what we don't do as I am of what we do."
Let me repeat that in a bigger font, because it deserves it:
"I'm as proud of what we don't do as I am of what we do.” (my underline)
What I’m wondering is this: how do help people feel proud of stuff we don’t do?
A big part of Agile thinking is not doing stuff. Trouble is, you don't see stuff you are no longer doing, so it’s not as easy to be proud of not doing it.
- Imagine a development team (agile or waterfall or whatever) which used to ask how they’d test a new feature after they’d built it, rather than before. But then they switched to asking before and a whole lot of rework disappeared. Excellent! That freed up capacity to do more valuable work. Only problem is: they can't see the rework that’s no longer done and - since people have short memories - they don’t feel proud of not doing it.
- Another team put together a magic little script which saved a load of manual smoke testing. One benefit of doing this is, obviously, the manual testing work no longer being done. But, again, you can’t see it because it doesn’t exist. The people on the team don’t sit there and think “I’m so proud that we don’t do all that manual testing anymore”. They just don’t do that.
- Another team deliberately pared their product back to it’s bare minimum, went live earlier, get feedback from the market, adapted and so on … Some of those features-not-built-earlier were built-later ... but many weren’t and the product was (probably) easier to use and to sell because it was smaller and simpler. And yet not everyone felt proud of that. In fact, a lot of the team felt a little fraudulent because building the smaller product and delivering it early was sooooo much simpler - and lazier? - than building a bigger product and shipping it later.
We need to celebrate what we don't do. It's at least as important as what we do do.
So, my question: how do we recognise "what we don't do" ... so that we can celebrate it and be proud of it?