“Being of no power to make his wishes good:
His promises fly so beyond his state that what he speaks is all in debt; He owes for every word.”

— William Shakespeare

Development teams responsible for creating new products and services are often under great pressure. This is understandable. The businesses they work for are also under great pressure.

Management often asks teams to do what is actually impossible to accomplish in the amount of time given. That is because they actually want to have the desired product or service ready tomorrow, or better yet, yesterday.

Under this pressure, the development teams must remember they always have four obligations from which they should never waver.

Obligation 1. Focus on Value to the Customers.
First and foremost focus on value to the customers. The development team has been hired to be the expert. Be the expert. Know the customer domain better than the customer. Ensure all actions are focused on delivering value to the customer.

Obligation 2. Deliver High-Quality Results.
Your customers expect a product that works. They want it to work the first time. Your internal testing should be a validation that your development process is working. Needing to do extensive rework in your testing is a flashing red indicator that your customer is at risk of bad quality. It is also saying loudly that your process must be improved.

Always remember that focusing on quality from the start is the key to speed for delivering customer value. Every bit of rework takes away time from creative work.

Obligation 3. Take Ownership of the Speed to Value.
The development teams are the experts. They must focus all actions on achieving the best speed to value. They must focus on getting the right people and the right skills on the job. They must constantly prioritize the most valuable work for the customer. They must get the right tools and the right training.

They should be turning over every rock for opportunities to go faster to high-quality value

Obligation 4. Make Commitments You Can Keep or Beat.
The leaders of the business want the product the team is building to be ready right now. Your obligation as a development team is to build a plan focused, yes on speed, but also on a commitment you can keep or beat. The business leaders need to know what it will really take to build the best product for the customers.

Use your engineering judgment. Use historical data. Consider the cost of rework. Know that the customer will be asking for more things.

Make a plan that you believe.


These obligations are not easy. That is why they must be kept in the forefront of your discussions with leadership and your customers.

The more you can deliver to these obligations, the more the business and their customers will trust you to create the highest value products.

You do not desire to be the person in William Shakespeare​’s quote that began this newsletter.

Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,

Alan Willett

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