Red Green Repeat Adventures of a Spec Driven Junkie

Delivering Late is a Big Problem

One value I want to the team to embrace is:

Delivering 10% on time is far greater than 100% late.


Having something on time is far greater than nothing on time. Once something is late: expectations rise, timelines adjusted, the team is behind.

There are seldom acceptable reasons for delivering late. For a team, delivering late should be the exception, not the rule.

Problems of Delivering Late

How do teams get into this situation of not delivering on time?

When delivering late happens regularly, it is a larger problem, especially:

  • The team cannot size the amount of work they can deliver by a deadline properly.
  • Delivering late blocks other teams dependent on the expected work.
  • Team cannot prioritize work, so they try to “deliver it all” instead of figuring out the crucial parts and delivering that.
  • There cannot be any effective feedback when delivering late except: “do it faster.”
  • When work is not delivered on the deadline, work drags on and team morale degrades.

Ultimately, the team is not owning any part of the process or solution and they are there just to carry out the whims of whoever is “in charge”. The person in charge is not doing their job of enforcing deadlines, giving ownership, and explaining how important it is for the team to deliver something.

How to Fix?

If there’s a magic bullet to solve a delivering late problem, I would not give it away for free!

The Longer; the Harder to Fix

One thing I can say: the longer a team that has been delivering late, the longer it will take to fix. The lateness creeps in slowly, at first a shock to the team, eventually, the team becomes numbs to lateness and accepts is, along with any other teams working with them.

Focus on What, not How

Similar to writing a good sprint story - focus on what you want, not how to get there. How you get your team out of a lateness problem will be unique and specific to your team.