On a construction job site, an assistant superintendent walked about during a typical summer day, directing site crews and keeping every trade and machine busy moving. A production manager passed by, paused took a few pictures, and made notes.
"Why not come and walk with me," said the superintendent, "instead of planning out production?"
"Winter is coming in a few months, and I am helping plan temporary enclosures in case we aren't weather-tight for the interior trades," said the manager, "I recommend you do the same for the underground site work."
"Why bother about winter planning?" said the superintendent, "We have plenty of work at the present to deal with." The manager planned and collaborated with the trade leaders once monthly in half-day sessions to order notes in a column labeled 'backlog.'
Winter came as predicted, and the superintendent's trades overnight found themselves unable to work due to snow. The interior trades worked uninterrupted thanks to previously installed weather barriers and heating. The superintendent remembered mocking the production manager in the late summer for having the crew leaders waste time planning and making sticky notes to order work months in advance on a whiteboard.
"You are wasting time taking these leads away from their crews, and they are better-directing work than spending hours in a meeting with markers and sticky notes." said the superintendent to the manager before the meeting.
"Agreed, we have work to be done now, but we must also be looking far enough ahead to keep future work ordered, visible, transparent, and clear. You are welcome to join the meeting."
"Nope, I'm busy." said the superintendent. "I don't have time, and there are more important things to do now."
The superintendent spent an entire day coordinating special equipment and crews to remove snow and create safe travel paths before resuming the deep underground excavation work more than a week later. Only then did the superintendent know the value of longer-term scheduling.
Morale: Winter is coming. It is best to regularly make long-term plans in advance of the needs.
This Scrum Fable is a work of fiction based on the author's experiences. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental (inspired by Aesop's Fables: The Ant and the Grasshopper).
Are you working with Scrum to deliver more value with less effort and have more fun? Check out these Scrum training resources to help you and your team(s) achieve twice the work in half the time.