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Agile is adaptive, not predictive. It’s one of the things that sets Agile apart—the very source of its name!—and one of the biggest culture shocks for organizations new to Agile. And nowhere is it more apparent than in the way Agile teams plan their work.
This chapter has the practices you need to effectively make and adapt your plans. Because adaptive planning can take time for organizations to accept, it also discusses how to make predictive plans with an Agile team.
The “Stories” practice helps your team plan its work in small, customer-centric pieces.
The “Adaptive Planning” practice balances adaptability with predictability to focus your team’s plans on value.
The “Visual Planning” practice creates plans that communicate context and options.
The “The Planning Game” practice creates a detailed plan for guiding your team’s next steps.
The “Real Customer Involvement” practice allows your team to include customers’ perspectives in their plans.
The “Incremental Requirements” practice determines requirements details just before they’re needed.
Agile has always been adaptive. The subtitle of the first Extreme Programming book was “Embrace Change.” [Beck2000a] The preface of the first Scrum book emphasized reducing risk by making adjustments as early as possible.
Adaptability is so central to Agile, it’s hard to pin down specific sources. Adaptive Planning is an amalgamation of ideas I’ve seen and used over the years, although Software by Numbers [Denne2004] was a major influence. Incremental Requirements and Real Customer Involvement are similarly hard to pin down, although I swiped the name of the latter practice from the second edition of XP [Beck2004].
Visual Planning stems from the real-world practices of many Agile teams. Jeff Patton’s story maps and Gojko Adzic’s impact maps are direct influences, and I’ve included both of them.
Stories is one of the best-known Agile practices. It originated in XP under the name “User Stories,” which was simplified to just “Stories” in XP’s second edition. The Planning Game also comes from XP.