WIP, Not Whip

Don’t just blame the team – figure out the impediments and remove them.

Watching Undercover Boss and the CEO was talking about the issues with the bottling company. Bottles labeled incorrectly, mistakes made. This boss made a typical management comment about people not doing a good job. But this is why I watch UB. Then the CEO spent a day in the bottling plant. People running as fast as possible, machines at top capacity can’t meet the demand. The CEO couldn’t hack it. Bottles were broken.

In a typical Control and Command management style the answer is to whip people. “If they can’t do it, get some that will”. In agile, you try to empower the team to solve problems.

One of the things that a WIP does is demonstrate where the bottleneck actually is. It also forces the team to finish one thing before they move on to another.

The idea is that you force a limit to each stage of the process. When you are building software, people tend to work on the new, shiny tasks. If you aren’t careful, you will have ten tasks ready to test and nothing new to develop in your sprint.

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