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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.

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