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Balancing Adaptability and Predictability

This post is from Jim Highsmith by Jim Highsmith. Click here to see the original post in full.

One of the most vexing issues for executives and managers is balancing the need for both predictability and adaptability in software delivery. While this might seem like an either/or issue, the solutions are really both/and ones. In presentations I often ask the question, “How many of you have been on Agile teams and were asked to be agile, adaptive, flexible—but also asked to conform to the plan?” Mostly I get snickers and mild laughter at the question because most have experienced it.

Ambiguous, uncertain and fast moving environments create paradoxes that cannot be resolved by canned answers. Teams and managers need to understand how to manage these paradoxes by finding ways to do both—to predict and adapt within the same delivery effort. So here are some of my thoughts about riding this paradox.


One of the key ways that Agile teams predict schedule (which is often the most critical attribute for management) is to timebox the effort. While a timebox specifies the schedule for a release of the product, it’s...

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