Ideas Behind Agile Planning: Prioritize Our Stupidity

We could phrase this as “prioritize our learning,” but I find it fun and a good chuckle to be humble enough to admit we are stupid. Human beings, at least in regard to planning, are stupid in two ways: (1) incompletely informed, and (2) we just do stupid things. But I am referring particularly to the initial “lack of knowledge.”

For example, the fact that we are not fully informed about the future is no great surprise, or about the fact that things will change—again, no surprise. But we do not know (or remember) all the information currently available in all the domains that could make our plans more effective.

Equally, we do not agree with the cynical view that “we know nothing” or, slightly more realistically, that (a) we know so little, or (b) things are going to change so much that doing an initial plan is useless. We know something today, and by working together on a first draft plan, we can discover more where we are confident in our knowledge, and where we want to learn more.

What kinds of things do we not know (enough)?

Some examples:

  • The future
  • Our customers
  • Our customers’ needs and wants
  • Changes to our customers’ needs and wants
  • The customer journey (or the process)
  • The competition
  • The market
  • The technology
  • The legal, regulatory, and compliance environment
  • The Scrum Team itself
  • Surprises that we are about to hit


And that’s just a start.

Now, we know or, to some degree, can anticipate (guess at) some of these, but these are areas where we can always be learning; catching up with the past and seeing further into the future.

By prioritizing our learning, we hope to learn faster than the competition. And the learning should enable us to revise the plan, so that we can execute more effectively.

It is not about just one of these, but all three together: learning, (re)planning, and execution.



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