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Closing the loop

By Haim Deutsch • 25 Jun, 2017

Look at this 1:43 seconds clip


Right, it is almost 2-minute-long, and not the most interesting clip in the world, but despite the total lack of scenario, you remained to see it up to its end, all the 1:43 minutes…


Here is another example:

You’re at gas station, filling the tank full, you already reached 39.9 liters and the pump jumped up, what do you do?

Much probably you’ll press manually short presses to reach exactly 40.0 liters.  Did you miss it and reached  40.1, what a wrong feeling it is? Haaa!

Weird, isn’t it?

The point is that our brain is programmed to close loops. Leaving opened one feels uncomfortable, while closing already a started action gives us a sentiment of plenitude, same sentiment as drawing a “✓”. Aaaaah feel good!

In its best-seller “Getting Things Done”, David Allen depicts the negative impact of leaving things unfinished. Such items remain in our brain, polluting our cognitive activity, our brain is continuously scanning these unfinished item, giving a feeling of overload, stress and a fuzzy feeling of unachieved due work. It does avoid us from concentrating exclusively on actual work, and destroys our wellbeing experience.

“The mankind brain goal is to have ideas, not to stock them” Francis Heylighen et Clément Vidal, 2008

In his book, D. Allen preconized solutions like: External brain, the 2-minutes rule and much more.

However in the life of development teams, the notion of un-completed tasks takes a new flavor. Developing new features can turn into very complex activity, with GUI, DB, application, design, and much more. It is often very difficult to complete an entire feature within a single iteration.

The outcome: the iteration leaves us with a sentiment of un-accomplishment. Remaining tasks pill up together with further features to be developed, and by the third iteration we suffer either stress or apathy. In addition, we are experiencing, most of the time, an augmentation in re-work.

Hadas:” I made some progress in the design, worked on the GUI and then developed the first methods of the app, then it occurs that the design was not completely finished, I got back to the design, which causes re-writing of the GUI. And it continues like this, back and forth, maybe ten times.

I prefer not to plan anything because it is impossible to tell when the feature will be completed. We are in a deep chaos”

Does it hurt, not yet?

My advice to Hadas is  to focus on closing loops, on finishing some development by the end of each single iteration

“But it is impossible” Hadas responded.

Yes Hadas, you’re right, it is impossible! It is impossible until you define your feature horizontally as full stack increments, designing the feature to be done very thin and incomplete, but end-to-end. Producing value and closing the loop. There may be re-work, but if you define properly the increment, it will be minimal and most of the time you will be able to leave the increment as is, and realize the change in a further increment.

Yes, it is hard at first to define and design increments, because it is turning around 90o the way you are used to work. But it is a learned competence which will reduce dramatically stress, bad feeling, re-work and will improve your well-being and your ability to plan and stick to your commitment.

Habit yourself to close loops will change your life and the life of those surrounding you.

How do I know it? Getting Things Done is #2 Amazon book In time management and #4 Amazon book in stress management.

Try closing features by defining increments and tell me how it changed your life!

so… Stop Starting … Start Stopping

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