Ken describes how a customer can sacrifice quality and sustainable pace in the short term but pay it back at a premium, “$4 to remediate every $1 drop in quality.”
Clearly there are pressing bugs, misses and serendipitous opportunities. There are times to inject work into a sprint backlog. There are even times to “stop the line” and reset a sprint.
But when you manage a self-directed team, “just do it” — and I’ve heard that very phrase — is bullshit.
Just characterizes another person’s work as easy. It is the people performing work that need to estimate it. They are on the hook to execute and are incented to think critically in detail about what they are taking on. The worker grasps the actual effort better than the executive.
Do characterizes the work as physical action. Software development is problem solving and abstract modeling, i.e. knowledge work. “I’m typing as fast as I can?!” Even industrial lean practice relies on workers engaging beyond the boundaries of the immediate task to improve the product and the process of manufacture.
It characterizes the work as a single, clearly defined task. Again, the person doing the work determines whether they clearly understand assignment. Otherwise, you’re not admitting to any ambiguity of language, hidden complexity, or potential misunderstandings.
Just do it is a one way directive that splits responsibility from authority, i.e. YOU just do it. It signals a leader is not willing to do their part to remove obstacles for their team.
Just do it hides inefficiency under a veneer of necessity. Is it a surprise that “just do it” finds companionship with “just the way things are done” and “just the nature of the business”?
All this to say “just do it” in knowledge work is bullshit. The value lies not in the truth or falsity of the statement but the effect it has on the hearer. It dismisses workers’ concerns and excuses management from accountability.
Moving from bulls to birds, if self-directed teams are the goose that lays golden eggs, “just do it” is a pellet blast in the ole’ egg layer.