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InfoQ Homepage News Discussion: "Decide as Late as Possible"

Discussion: "Decide as Late as Possible"

Chapter 3 of Lean Software Development is titled "Decide as late as possible".  It's an important tenet for self-managing teams, encouraging them to avoid detailed discussions of items not currently under development or nearby on the planning horizon.  This practice keeps teams from dissipating their energy on discussions that will only be rehashed again later.  It keeps them focused on their current committments and facilitates what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls "flow" - a state where work is focused and uninterrupted.
Flow is a mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing, characterized by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. --Wikipedia
But "decide at the last possible moment" does not suggest blindly plowing ahead without thought for upcoming features.  Some trainers modify this to "decide as late as responsibly possible", for clarity. It's a practice that requires a careful balancing act, which one learns over time.

This goes against the grain for many new Agille managers or team leads, who are used to mitigating risk through careful up-front planning.  Can this possibly be right?  A group of ScrumMasters recently discussed the topic, drawing on many collective years of experience.

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