· agile context-switching

A reminder about context switching

I’ve spent most of my time working on agile software development teams over the last few years so for the most part each pair is only working on one story, keeping the work in progress low and allowing them to focus on that piece of work until it’s completed.

My pair and I ended up in a therefore somewhat unusual situation last week where we were attempting to work on three things at the same time and weren’t doing a particularly great job on any of them.

It wasn’t immediately obvious to me that we were doing this since the two extra tasks that we were working on were related to deployment issues on different environments.

However we eventually started making mistakes and in rushing to rectify those made even more mistakes since we were still trying to concentrate on three different things.

It became much more obvious at this point that we needed to just pick one of the items and focus on that until we were done which also served as a reminder that it’s good to use the story board as an indicator of what everyone is working on.

In this case two of the tasks we were working on weren’t on the story board otherwise it would have been more obvious to the rest of the team that we shouldn’t have been working on two of them.

I’ve never really noticed the problems of context switching before so it was interesting to get such a stark example to remind me of its dangers.

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