We cling to old-fashioned long-term plans because they are familiar and we think they provide certainty, but they don’t. We shouldn’t sabotage Agile by trying to bolt on a (dishonest) long-term plan; we should understand and embrace what we’re getting in place of the plan.
I’m blogging this from 35,000 feet, almost entirely just because I can. I’m coming home from two things I’ve wanted to do for a long, long time:  travel on business and  get paid to talk. Yes, it was as good as I hoped!
Plus I got two states I needed!
Anyway, tomorrow I’m slated to deliver the inaugural session of our “Scrum-damentals” Coffee Talk (free! register at scrumdamentals.eventbrite.com!) and I’m taking advantage of Alaska Airlines’ in-flight wi-fi to put my personal touches on an awesome slide deck created by our in-house Scrum Authority, Martin. Scrum-damentals will cover common Scrum adoption challenges and the dreaded ScrumButs. One of the Buts that Martin wrote up is the tendency to try to do long-range scope and release planning in spite of the Scrum directive to plan only the next 3-ish Sprints in any detail.
In fact, this is one of the clearest commonalities between Agile and Scrum.
And my former team did it. I helped.
So why’s that bad? We know upper management is often uncomfortable with Agile, and a little release planning is necessary to keep them happy, right? What’s the problem?
When we succumb to pressure to project-plan, we’re giving upper management false hope. We are lying to them. We know it. They probably know it, too. We have absolutely no way of predicting accurately what we’re even going to attempt to deliver in a Sprint a year from now, much less what we’re going to accomplish in that Sprint. It’s insulting to everyone’s intelligence to pretend otherwise. And we, the team, participate in our own downfall when we play along.
In tomorrow’s Coffee Talk, I’ll cover some strategies we can use to push back against the demand for the plan. Bottom line: we have to speak up and we have to educate our upper management about the benefits of Agile. When they start to understand how much they gain by doing Agile honestly and transparently and fully, they’ll have a much easier time giving up the dream of the delicious cake.