BONUS: Mastering the Art of Forecasting, Prioritization Paradigms and Flow Metrics with Troy Lightfoot

Agile Planning Insights From The Gambler’s Ruin Thought Experiment

Troy, in this Agile Uprising podcast episode, delves into his intriguing journey in the realm of forecasting and estimation for software development. Inspired by that episode, we discuss the concept of Gambler’s Ruin, a mathematical problem turned into a game. Troy shares the main insights from Gambler’s Ruin and mentions Prateek Singh of ProKanban.org who has used this concept to demonstrate that even a slight skill advantage can lead to success when focusing product development on what Troy calls “Small Bets”

Small bets and impact on prioritization

Small bets relate to the implications of spending money on a product idea. It’s not just an expense; it’s an investment with an anticipated return on investment (ROI). The crucial question arises: how do we strategically place these bets in product development? Here, Troy exposes the fallacy of assuming we can determine value upfront. We also discuss the concept of anti-fragility and highlight how many processes are inadvertently designed to be fragile. In this context, the size of the bet correlates with cycle time, and “time” itself becomes the bet’s magnitude. As Annie Duke advocates in her book “Thinking in Bets,” small bets bolster resilience, while large bets can lead to vulnerability.

Essential flow metrics and their significance

How do we know we are making small bets? Troy sheds light on the pivotal flow metrics that software development teams should diligently track. He explains the relationship between Work In Progress (WIP) and cycle time, referring to Little’s law formula. And he introduces work item age as a metric that can help predict WIP and Cycle time, which gives teams a tangible representation of their current investment. This metric aids in decision-making and fosters a more effective approach to forecasting.

Rethinking traditional prioritization techniques

In the podcast, Troy advocates for a paradigm shift in prioritization practices. He highlights that the more time spent prioritizing work, the larger the bet size (planning time directly affects bet size). Drawing from the wisdom of Don Reinertsen and the principles outlined in the book “Principles of Product Development Flow,” he stresses the intrinsic cost associated with all work undertaken. Aligning individuals and teams on priorities is essential, yet the priority itself may hold uncertainty.

To aid teams in this endeavor, Troy discusses the Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF) framework, and how it offers a pragmatic approach to prioritize tasks based on contributing factors. However, prioritization is directly affected by dependencies, which means that eliminating dependencies becomes a critical step towards making smaller, more manageable bets. For example, by segregating dependencies, teams can significantly reduce bet sizes and enhance predictability.

In this episode, Troy elucidates how conventional prioritization techniques can inadvertently hinder forecasting and predictability. He provides insights into alternative approaches that foster adaptability and more accurate forecasts.

Resource recommendation

For those eager to dive deeper into the world of Agile metrics and predictability, Troy recommends Dan Vacanti’s book, “Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability,” as an invaluable resource.

About Troy Lightfoot

Troy is a Lean Product Development Coach and trainer for ProKanban.Org. He coaches and trains Scrum, Kanban, and SAFe and other Agile Scaling approaches. Troy transitioned from computer science to full-time Agile coaching, specializing in Lean Portfolio and Program Management. He is also a co-founder of the Agile Uprising Podcast, and an active blogger. For further insights into Troy’s work and methodologies, visit ProKanbanTraining.com and explore the Agile Uprising podcast. Additionally, you can delve deeper into Troy’s teachings at ProKanban.org.

Get These Valuable Lessons Today!
Down-to-earth, hard-earned Scrum Masters lessons and the Tips from the Trenches e-book table of contents, delivered by email
Enter e-mail to download a clickable PO Cheat Sheet
This handy Coach Your PO cheat-sheet includes questions to help you define the problem, and links to handy, easy techniques to help you coach your Product Owner
Enter e-mail to download a clickable PO Cheat Sheet
This handy Coach Your PO cheat-sheet includes questions to help you define the problem, and links to handy, easy techniques to help you coach your Product Owner
Enter e-mail to download a checklist to help your PO manage their time
This simple checklist and calendar handout, with a coaching article will help you define the minimum enagement your PO must have with the team
Enter e-mail to download a checklist to help your PO manage their time
This simple checklist and calendar handout, with a coaching article will help you define the minimum enagement your PO must have with the team
Internal Conference
Checklist
Internal Conference
Checklist
Download a detailed How-To to help measure success for your team
Motivate your team with the right metrics, and the right way to visualize and track them. Marcus presents a detailed How-To document based on his experience at The Bungsu Hospital
Download a detailed How-To to help measure success for your team
Read about Visualization and TRANSFORM The way your team works
A moving story of how work at the Bungsu Hospital was transformed by a simple tool that you can use to help your team.
Read about Visualization and TRANSFORM The way your team works
NEW! Mini-Summit (Join the Waitlist)
Join us for this new Mini-Summit featuring seven pre-recorded sessions handpicked from our most popular past events.
NEW! FREE Product Owner Mini-Summit
Join us for this new Mini-Summit featuring seven pre-recorded sessions handpicked from our most popular past events.
Your FREE ticket is on the way!
Check your inbox for details. Email us at ProductOwnerSummit.org if you have questions
Check Your Inbox For Details Email us if you have questions: ProductOwnerSummit@oikosofy.com
Your Ticket Is On The Way!
NEW! FREE Product Owner Mini-Summit
Join us for this new Mini-Summit featuring seven pre-recorded sessions handpicked from our most popular past events.
NEW! FREE Product Owner Mini-Summit
Join us for this new Mini-Summit featuring seven pre-recorded sessions handpicked from our most popular past events.