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Does the MaxPass Exist In Software Development?

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Does the MaxPass Exist In Software Development?

A Zone Leader compares add-on options for a theme park admission with software development — wondering if some requests receive favoritism over others.

· Agile Zone ·
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Last year, for my son's birthday, the entire family flew out to Las Vegas to spend time with family. We then caravanned over to the Anaheim area and spent time at Disneyland. This was the first time I had ever visited California, which was a nice experience.

When I purchased the tickets to Disneyland, I was asked if I wanted to purchase a MaxPass (add-on) for any of the tickets. Basically, for an additional $30 per ticket, we could reserve our FASTPASS selections from a mobile device — making the most of our visit. This is similar to the Fast Lane and Fast Lane Plus options at the Kings Island park (closer to my home), which allows you to avoid having to wait in line to ride an attraction.

You may also like: Best Practices for Bug Hunting and Tracking

This made me wonder if the concept of a MaxPass exists in software development.

Bug Fixes

In an agile environment, there is typically an order by which items will be handled. Often, a subset is selected for work during the current iteration, with everything else remaining in the backlog for future consideration.

When working in very organized teams, even the backlog is organized and maintained. So, if I finished all of my tasks for the iteration, the rule was to pick the item at the top of the backlog.

Often, unexpected issues from the prior development cycle arise. When this situation occurs, teams often reserve a portion of the current development cycle to handle such items. Other teams may simply move the issue into the backlog, where it will be prioritized against the rest of the items.

There are cases, where the fix is considered urgent — either by the product owner or perhaps someone from the business. While the team has a set plan for the development iteration and all team members are fully engaged with their tasks, they might be asked to switch tasks and focus on resolving the bug.

In this case, the drive for the bug fix has the MaxPass and was able to jump in front of the other items, which were planned for this release before the iteration starts.

Executive Power

There is also the "Executive Power" principle, which can cause feature teams to change focus immediately and is working on something that may not have been on the backlog hours earlier.

Having worked in this type of environment before, it is not a fun situation. When we would see one certain executive heading towards our team, we all knew that things were about to change. It was not a fun experience.

While the intent of the executive is not a question here, the impact on causing a team to stop and change direction has a significant impact on the productivity of the team overall. When switching back to the original tasks, it always seems like the time required to get "up to speed" was significant ... and costly.

In this case, the executive has the power of the MaxPass to change the direction of a team, at will.

Faster Pass?

Disneyland did not have this, but the theme park Kings Island has adopted the layer pass approach.

This means, that I can purchase a regular ticket and always wait in line. Or I can purchase the Fast Lane ticket, which saves me some time;  however, the Fast Lane ticket doesn't work everywhere, which is where the Fast Lane Plus ticket becomes an option. When a new season opens at Kings Island, I always wonder if there will be a new layer of Fast Lane available...knowing it is certainly a possibility as long as people are willing to pay to always be at the front of the line.

What happens when the feature team is working on a bug fix driven by the business and the executive tries to flex the Executive Power principle at the same feature team? Believe it or not, I have seen this before too.

In my experience, one of the following tends to happen:

  • Finish out the bug fix, then get with the executive before going back to planned work.
  • Executive strikes a deal with the business and jumps ahead of them.
  • The executive goes to another team for the request.

Of course, none of the options that I have seen are to stay focused on the planned tasks.

Conclusion

As a society, I feel like there is a perception to always want things now. The theme parks recognized this aspect and figured out a way to cash in on this human trait.

For those in a role where they can redirect the course of a feature team, I urge you to consider the consequences of such actions. Because, when the team has the ability to get back to their planned work, additional time is required to re-familiarize themselves with their current status before the interruptions occurred.

Have a really great day!


Further Reading

Bug Fixing! [Comic]

Not All Bugs Are Worth Fixing (And That's Okay)

The Lifecycle of a Testing Bug

Topics:
agile adoption ,disruption ,bug fixes ,executive ,agile

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