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Functional Goals

After this post, I have had a number of conversations with people about what I really meant by setting functional targets instead of story point (velocity) targets. In one such discussion, I was given an example where someone set a goal to run for 90 minutes!!

At first glance you might not find the last statement worth the exclamation marks at the end of it. But this is exactly the difference between functional targets and velocity targets. I think it’s wrong to set a target of running for 90 minutes. The real goal is to burn X number of calories. Or to travel X number of kilometers.

Once you set your goal right, you are open to find better ways of achieving it. If your goal is burning calories, you’d probably do it better (faster) by skipping rope for 30 minutes than by running for 90 minutes.

Now all you have to worry about is

  • the rate at which you are actually burning calories AND
  • what can you do to improve this rate

So instead of planning to complete 30 points next iteration (going by yesterday’s weather, etc), I’d plan to achieve a set of features and keep optimizing the rate at which I am able to produce features assuming that I never compromise quality in wake of going faster.


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