Broken windows in the project

Do you know the theory of the broken window, the “broken window theory”? It originates from the USA and tries to answer the question why some empty buildings fall into disrepair within a very short time and others do not. The surprising realization: it often starts with a broken window. If this is not repaired immediately, people will soon break more windows, dump garbage in the house and turn it into a ruin in a short time. Whether the “zero-tolerance policy”, which is based on this realization and provides for severe punishments even for petty offences, is actually a good idea, is a matter of debate. But for agile development teams, this theory contains an absolutely justifiable call: “Stop the beginnings, otherwise morale will go down the drain at breathtaking speed! What are broken windowsin a project? For example

  • Open bugs
  • Unfinished Stories
  • Unrefactored, poorly structured code
  • Code fragments commented out
  • Unresolved knowledge monopolies
  • Lack of user documentation
  • Fancy Daily Scrums
  • Unusual retrospectives
  • Demonstrations of unfinished stories in the Sprint Review

So let’s not allow “broken windows” in our projects.

On Key

The VSM Quick Guide: the model

The introduction to the series on Jon Walker’s VSM quick guide. It describes the simplified VSM vocabulary as used in the rest of the steps.