Yesterday morning I was doing my usual commute run to work. Even though it is now April, there was frost on the ground. The second half of my route involves navigating through some tricky terrain of High Park. I was getting a little tired towards the end. Ahead of me is a big patch of shiny ice. I thought to myself, now that my energy is depleted a bit, there is a good chance that it affects my agility to negotiate this technical terrain. I am now more prone to injury. So I slowed down and be more cautious then usual and continue through the icy patches.

Afterwards, I think to myself if this running metaphor can also be applied to software development as well. Our ability to stay agile perhaps is based on how energetic the team is. If the team is operating in a sustainable pace where it’s energy level is never to be too depleted, the team can maintain it’s agility. What is this team energy you might ask? Well I think it is the “life force” that keeps the team going everyday. It drives the team’s courage to innovate; to go to places where no one’s gone before. It drives the team’s will to survive when facing impossible deadlines. It helps the team to be able to deal with whatever unexpected that comes in their way.

When the team’s energy is depleted, the team becomes less agile. It is then the team is at a vulnerable state. If it is asked to run though an icy patch, there is a good chance that the team will thrash and get hurt. This is manifested by making irrational decisions; rather than doing the simplest thing that works, it chooses to do the stupidest things that works in attempt to meet the deadline. The team incurs large amounts of technical debts.

It was once explained to me in a marathon running clinic, it is absolutely critical that we do not deplete our energy at a rate such that we can no longer recover it during the race. Continue to do so we will find our body to go into shock (a.k.a Hit-The-Wall: a state of complete exhaustion in running term). My instructor recommends us to use a heart rate monitor to help maintain a sustainable pace.

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