Are We Moving Too Fast?

I remember the sprint planning meeting so clearly. I had joined Peloton the week prior and the team was heads-down trying to launch a major refactor of the iOS app. After calculating how many story points we were going to tackle in the next sprint, our project manager, Asma Khan, asked the group: “are we moving too fast?”

I’ll never forget this question. In my three years in the industry so far (sans internships), this was the first time I was asked to reflect on our pace potentially being too fast. Agile Development centers on a major interval training metaphor, namely sprints. But, Agile almost entirely misses the other side of the coin: regimented rest. We can’t expect teams to knock out a monotonically increasing amount of story points, sprint after sprint. Sometimes, you have to move slower now to move faster later.

Naval Ravikant recently posted a great perspective on the Athlete ⇔ Knowledge Worker metaphor:

I hope the next wave of development paradigms borrow from what we’ve learned in training world-class athletes1. To list a few: sound bodies make for sound minds, sleep deprivation is a false badge of honor2, information diets are akin to nutritional diets, managers should also aim to be coaches (teachers), and being comfortable with being uncomfortable is a skill we can cultivate.


1: And performers, in general

2: Basecamp’s cofounder, Jason Fried, even posited the idea of paying employees to sleep more (timestamped link).