By John Sonmez March 17, 2010

Moving the Finish Line

Question: How do you demotivate a Scrum team?

Answer: Move the finish line.

Let me paint you a picture…  imagine you are in a race.  The 100 yard dash.  You've been training, practicing the starting blocks and getting ready for the big race.

You are in the blocks, ready to explode and start running at the sound of the gun.

The gun fires “BANG”.

You take off down the track.

90 yards

70 yards

40 yards

30 yards, you can see the finish line clearly now… almost there

20 yards, just keep sprinting and you will be there!

50 yards, wtf?  Did the finish line just move?

60 yards, eh?  Did it just move again?!

Do you keep running hard at this point, or do you start walking?  If you are like most people, you will start walking.  If you are like most Scrum teams, you will start walking.

Now, imagine if this happens every sprint.  Pretty soon training becomes less important.  You find yourself not even using the blocks because it is not going to matter.  After a few iterations of this the team is walking from the get-go, not even running at all.

Do not move the finish line.  Don't do it.

About the author

John Sonmez

John Sonmez is the founder of Simple Programmer and a life coach for software developers. He is the best selling author of the book "Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual."