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Software development is a marathon, not a relentless series of sprints

Something I’ve noticed with most Agile/Scrum teams is that employee technical training has all-but disappeared.

The team devotes 100% of their time on delivering new features every two weeks.

There’s no time for developers to learn and improve. That would lower the burndown rate, which can’t be allowed. So, teams keep sprinting at top speed – never gaining any compounded benefits of becoming better at their job.

Some managers will say, “But we paid for Pluralsight subscriptions and told our developers to spend two hours every Friday on a course.”

That usually lasts about three weeks.

Some emergency comes up, and training time is skipped for “just this week”. Or a user story is more difficult than expected, so the developer uses the training time to work on the feature. Those one-off exceptions quickly become every-week habits.

After six months, the CIO or CTO sees that none of the developers are taking any courses, and they cancel the subscriptions.

So, the team never gets better, and the software they write never gets better.

 

Corporate software development is a marathon, not a relentless series of sprints.

There needs to be recovery time – time to improve. If management doesn’t take employee skill training seriously, the work produced and the work environment will never get better. And, at the individual developer level, if your skills never improve, your career is also unlikely to improve.

As someone who has been programming for decades, I can assure you that focusing 100% on the short-term, will lead to problems in the long-term. Make it a priority to invest time in improving your skills.

2 Comments

  1. Boyd Bradford
    Boyd Bradford September 28, 2023

    Scott, I totally agree with you! I’ve been in the IT business for over 30 years now and training of any kind that can help employees get better and be more productive seem like an afterthought by most companies. Most training opportunities fall on the employee to come up with during what little time is available on the job for the reasons you have mentioned or you get the lovely option to do it on your “own” time. I just finished up your Learn C# by Building a Simple RPG training and it was AWESOME! Thank you for providing such great training material.

    • Scott Lilly
      Scott Lilly September 29, 2023

      You’re welcome! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the guide. Hopefully it helps in your future IT work.

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