Agile Tip: Use Assumptions To Keep Momentum

Here is some agile methodology worth paying attention to, stating that even wrong decisions allow developers to keep momentum and push a project forward:

> If we decide not to make any decisions we lose 10 times $822, for a total of $8,220
> per week. Let me say that again: blanket indecision loses $8,220 per week; making
> decisions (including bad ones) loses $1,680 per week. That’s a difference of $6,540
> per week.

It’s actually a pretty powerful argument for doing everything possible to lower the perceived cost of making a decision for managers or customers. Perceived cost is that fear-driven idea that if you make a certain decision, you’ll be stuck with the results forever if it doesn’t work out, due to the high cost of changing it.

This is exactly the problem that Agile methods were designed to solve. By reducing the perceived cost, we encourage our customers to make more timely decisions, learn from them, and adjust as needed without incurring high costs.

Assumptions work better than wrong decisions

In my daily life as a consultant, I often use assumptions just this way. Instead of focus on wrong decisions, I like to focus on assumptions. This can often be the best way to get work done. I totally agree with the philosophy above, that it’s cheaper to correct wrong decisions than to wait for the right decisions.

But it seems that when we make assumptions, we often tend to hit the right decisions — the ones that management comes up with later. When making assumptions, you will find — after some time that your guesses are often more right than wrong. Why?

Because assumptions often makes you able to do actual work. Real work, that your colleagues and management can understand. (I’m a big fan of doing working prototypes instead of specifications, as an example) .

Suddenly, when management can see your brilliant ideas in real life, they will prove you right, and your original assumptions turn into decisions.

Often on a daily basis, I have to deal with productivity issues that often slow down project speeds. I really like to make assumptions, as it can help you gain momentum, go to less meetings, and get more real work done.

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