The Last Responsible Moment

We’re often tempted to plan as much as possible in advance and make decisions way before they are actually due. It gives us a sense of security and risk mitigation and preparedness. I urge you to stop doing that.

To understand why, follow this chain of reasoning:

  1. When making decisions, more uncertainty leads to higher risk.
  2. The more knowledge we have, the less uncertainty remains.
  3. (No matter how much you know today, it’s safe to say that) Tomorrow you will know more than today.
  4. Hence every decision you will make tomorrow (next week, next month), will be more informed than the ones you make today.
  5. That’s why making decisions as late as possible lowers risk.

The knowledge you’re accumulating can be pretty much everything, e.g. about:

  • Yourself
  • Your team
  • Your project
  • Your product
  • Your business
  • Your competition
  • The market you’re in
  • The legislative environment you’re dealing with
  • And so on…

Agile software development and Scrum have this way of making late decisions built into the process. What matters most is at the top of the backlog or is worked on during a sprint. Everything else isn’t important for now and most decisions related to everything else don’t need to be made yet.

Keep this in mind. Keep questioning yourself whether decisions need to be made already. And if not, don’t make them now. And maybe don’t even bother to think about them yet.