Today we revisit the topic of empathy as we mark the last show in year 16. As coaches and leaders, we are taught that being empathetic is critical. However, the blanket statement that we need to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes is not all rainbows and kittens.

We will also have a visit from Jon M Quigley who brings his Alpha and Omega of Product Development column to the podcast. Jon and I continue our conversation on flow and its importance for teams and leaders.


The annual Thanksgiving holiday in the US was a few days ago providing space to reflect and give thanks to everyone involved in the 16-plus years history of the Software Process and Measurement Cast blog and podcast. There is a lot to be thankful and grateful for, this week we put the spotlight on everyone that makes the SPaMCAST possible.


There are several assumptions that are part of the conversation about neglected WIP. I have had a lot of training in math and quantitative methods which means I recognize that assumptions are important. Four of the critical assumptions are:


In SPaMCAST 727 we discuss the assumptions behind Little’s Law and Neglected WIP. Some of the assumptions you can cheat to generate useful conversations but there are limits and you need to be upfront about what you are doing. 

We also have a visit from Susan Parente who brings her Not A Scrumdamentalist column to the cast. In this installment, Susan answers a listener’s question about the complications of a team with 2 developers and 5 managers. 

Re-read Saturday News

This week we begin our re-read of Extraordinarily Badass Agile Coaching: The Journey from Beginner to Mastery and Beyond (Amazon Associate Link – buy your copy soon and start reading). This week we begin with a few notes on the logistics of the read and then review the two Forewords.

Week 1: Logistics and Forewords 

A quick advertisement:

Controlling work entry requires preparation and knowledge building to establish a path to control work entry (magic wands are normally not available), which is why Jeremy Willets and I have developed a work entry workshop. Interested? Please email us at or


In SPaMCAST 728 we will feature our discussion of product leadership stances with Anjali Leon and Nadezhda Belousova. Developing an understanding of product leadership stances will highlight product leadership gaps and strengthen your product focus. 

One of the most common problems teams face is starting more work than they complete. The reasons this occurs are both myriad and legendary. The impacts of teams starting more work than they complete, range from quality problems to increased support costs. Maybe the most critical outcome is lost trust. All these problems stem from letting work sit around once started while you do something else. No one can work on two items at the same time. You have to put one down, change your mental model and then work on something else. Neglected WIP is the gap between all the work you say you are working on and the stuff you are actually doing. While all neglected WIP is a problem, all teams have a few items on hold. TaskTop, the company Mik Kersten author of Project to Product founded, suggests that up to 25% neglected WIP might be acceptable. While I feel that is a high hurdle, the natural vagaries of office life can cause an item to get stuck due to someone being out sick or because your co-worker hit the lottery – stuff happens. When neglected WIP passes that hurdle, real flow time will increase and velocity will slow. The combination of getting less work done and taking longer at it is a prescription for your stakeholders to start looking for torches and pitchforks.   

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Jim Benson has a new book titled, The Collaboration Equation. Jim states that collaboration “is the base of the human condition, we need other people in order to live, but always seem to be at odds with each other.” Jim also states that unless you are striving for improvement, you are unprofessional. I really like talking to Jim; Jim is a force of nature. 

Listen Now

Daniel Doiron’s new book Seeing Money Clearly challenges Agile Centers of Excellence to view decision-making through the lens of Throughput Accounting. 

Throughput Accounting is a lot of things:

  • An accounting system, 
  • A financial application, 
  • A process of ongoing improvement (POOGI), and 
  • First and foremost, the decision-making arm of the Theory of Constraints. 

The bottom line to chapter 10 of Why Limit WIP: We Are Drowning In Work is simple (assuming you have been re-reading along); too much WIP interferes with learning. Without the time or inclination to experiment, the best scenario is learning by accident.  In Chapter 10, the author discusses how knowledge workers learn. The model is:

Perpetuating the Metaphor

Flow is one of the most used words in agile and lean (and there are a lot of overused words in the field). Even though the word is used by nearly every practitioner multiple times a day there are very few solid definitions. Instead of definitions, most practitioners have a notional understanding of what the word means in software and software-related disciplines but often revert to metaphors when challenged. If I had a dollar for every reference to a river or traffic I would be able to outbid Elon Musk for Twitter. The term is used as a noun, verb, and adjective (I am sure someone has an example of flow used as an adverb but I have to hear it yet).


As a coach, I spend a lot of time helping people communicate. Having been involved in helping teams and teams of teams get stuff done I am amazed at the amount of effort that goes into “communication,” how much of that effort is directed to messaging, and how little to actually coordinate and improve products. I recently got an email from a new reader of the blog. The question boiled down to whether it was normal for a whole team to spend three days generating slides and practicing for a sprint review. I will share a version of the response in a few weeks, but the basic answer was no. In that organization, the Sprint Review had stopped being a tool for collaboration and communication and a high-pressure messaging event. Unfortunately, while this might be a bit extreme, messaging and talking at people is often confused with communication.