Apr 27th, 2023
When I Was Your Age...
Written by: Nick Gillam, Senior Delivery Lead
When I was a young boy, my grandfather would tell me the most captivating stories of his childhood. Stories so fraught with peril and perseverance that one might mistake them for a classic Jack London tale. I just couldn’t believe how grueling his trips were every day on his way to… school.
Does that sound familiar? They typically went something like this, “when I was your age, I used to walk 5 miles through the snow to school every day, fending off bandits and hypothermia the entire way.” Eventually I realized that my grandpa, much like London, was spinning a fantastical story. Nevertheless, it was a story rooted in some reality. Everyday life was a lot more arduous in his time then it is now. Things that take seconds or minutes now, often took hours or days when he was my age. In our modern era, we have thousands of products, both physical and digital, that allow us to get a lot more done in a day than ever before. Products that allow us to be more productive.
There’s also no shortage of articles, books, YouTube videos, and life-hacks on the topic of productivity. And it makes sense, getting more done in an hour is preferrable to getting less done. However, I caution you when you’re evaluating productivity in the workplace (i.e. how much work is done over a specific period of time). At face value, it sounds like an important metric, but it can be a misleading, and potentially expensive, performance indicator because it measures quantity, not quality. Instead of focusing on the amount of work we’re doing in a day, or week, or quarter, we should be focusing on the impact of our work during that time.
It’s this emphasis on impact that makes agile software development so effective in our industry. You have an opportunity every day, or at a minimum every “sprint”, to evaluate what is most important right now, instead of what was most important 6 months ago during project planning. Once identified, you focus your energy on that. Your goal should not be to get work done quickly, it should be to deliver value quickly.
So, if you’re looking for ways to increase your company’s performance, start by evaluating what you’re delivering rather than how much. You might just find that you’ll end up with a great story to tell, just like grandpa.