Velocity and having your tires shot out

A while back I posted about Velocity being more than just speed.  This week I saw an entire project management team decide to shut the door on velocity.  I’m not going to pretend to understand the reasons behind their choice, but I can talk for a bit on the ramifications.

In the last couple of weeks, the development team that I’m working with has achieved our first real sense of velocity (well, 0 is still a velocity, but we weren’t getting anywhere fast with that).  I was starting to get a feel for the heart beat of the team.  We finally had a reason to hold our daily standups.  Better yet, we had the buy-in from the BAs to join us in a background, support role at the standups.  There was a visible buzz going through the team as we designed, implemented, refactored and tested code.  The guys were stoked about changing the existing code for the better and they’ve been showing great initiative to create good base code that should have been in the code from day one.

Then it happens.  Management decides that everything is going well and that other tasks require the attention of the BAs.  So now we have no firm completion date for the stories that are in the pipe.  The development team currently has enough work to keep them busy for the next week and a half.  After that the story faucet dries up, which means that we’re back at velocity == 0.

In my previous velocity post I said that velocity is directly related to the morale of the team.  This week I saw a team that became completely deflated on one piece of news.  I contemplated not telling them about it, but in the end I figured that whether they knew or not, we still were going to run out of work to do in the near future.  At first I thought it was like the wheels fell off our development-mobile, but that would imply that there was unexpected failure of the equipment.  This wasn’t unexpected.  It was a blatant act that was akin to shooting the tires out.