Question: So I have started to lie openly on my Agile status reports. However, I told my team that I was lying, which makes it OK, right?
This is what happens when “optics” are more important than “results”, because upper management is so over-committed that all they have time to do is review spreadsheets, rather than talking to actual humans.
This is one of those cases where the unwritten rules are more important than stated goals. This is not how Agile was intended to work; Agile was supposed to make people actually talk to each other… in meatspace, meaning as living human beings un-mediated by layers of digital technology. Agile’s radical contribution to the workplace was to essentially re-discover the importance of humanity in working creatively and efficiently. It was a simple common-sense antidote to government-style processes that took forever and left everyone mired in bureaucracy and waste.
If your group is obsessed with following spreadsheets, it means they haven’t embraced the spirit of Agile, and a better spreadsheet can’t compensate for that. If you’re in a place like this, forget about common sense. Listen carefully, kids, because I’m only going to say this once.
After your 2-week sprint has started, you can’t change any stories or tasks. Apparently God smites anyone who changes a committed task, even if that task is either unnecessary or has altered.
The goal is, at the end of each sprint, everyone has completed all their committed tasks, and the team looks like it’s working effectively. The higher-ups only look on the sprint planning spreadsheet.
Any work accomplished that is not on your sprint should be kept secret. If you report it now, God will think that you’re neglecting committed tasks for this sprint, and He will smite you. Plus you won’t have any easy wins for the next sprint because you’ll be ahead of yourself, and of the team.
If you have any task that can’t be completed in a single day, abandon the idea in favor of easier tasks. Safest is tasks that take 5 minutes, that way you have all day to score a “win”. The rest of your time is your own.
Eventually there are supposed to be “deliverables” or “release candidates”, but that involves learning to navigate the code control system. If anyone asks, grant them the wrong share permissions and then say that a bot kicked you out, and you can’t fix it now.