Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Why Sustainable Pace Matters

One of the (many) reasons I’m happy to be at Quick Solutions is their emphatic position that overtime is never directed by project managers or engineers, it’s a choice of each team member.

Sustainable Pace is a critical piece of well-done agile environments.  The idea is that productivty and quality suffer as folks start working longer hours on a project.  Frustration of team members climbs, mental cruft gathers up as team members can’t unwind or get enough sleep, and silly errors creep into the codebase because members get sloppy.  Maintaining a sustainable pace ensures you’re not falling into any of the bad situations I just listed. 

Additionally, if you’ve got a customer-facing role then there’s another critical benefit to maintaining a sustainable pace: your’re better able to communicate and manage the relationship with your customer.  

It’s tough to communicate complex issues clearly to your client when you’ve had four hours sleep for the last month. Worse yet, it’s much harder for you to keep your head straight and your attitude professional when an upset customer becomes difficult. 

Regardless of whether the client’s right or wrong with their outlook, you as the consultant have to keep your head in the game and get both sides past the bad communication to get things back on track.  This is especially important when your client refuses to accept ownership of errors on their part.  During these situations you can not afford to let the conversation get sidetracked into the blame game finger pointing thing.  A brain fogged up by weeks of ten to 12 hour (or more) workdays is not an asset at this point.

Sustainable Pace means you work hard during a reasonable workday, then you leave work and use your remaining hours in the day to do things that rejuvinate your mind.  Go play with your kids.  See your spouse while you’re awake.  Exercise.  Eat good food.  Go drink adult beverages with your friends. 

Do those things and then you’ve better able to sit back at your desk and crank out code that doesn’t suck.  You’re also better able to keep the relationship with your customer in a good place since you’re rested, refreshed, and hopefully happy.

Sustainable Pace.  It’s a Good Thing.

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