Velocity Is Like A Helium Balloon

Lately I have had many conversations about team velocity. Most of these conversations have had an element in them about increasing team velocity. Questions and statements like, “How can I get the team to increase their velocity?” or “We must complete an additional 20 points this sprint.” Often these ideas are accompanied by extensive velocity analysis, discussions keeping individuals 100% busy and so on.

Velocity Is Like A Helium Balloon

Attempting to directly manipulate team velocity is risky and often counterproductive. It can result in the team simply increasing their story point estimates or in taking shortcuts of quality and design so they can get a better number. Such actions damage the utility of the velocity as an input to planning and hide reality from the decision making process. Rather than worry and work over making velocity go up, remember this:

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Velocity is like a balloon. It will rise on its own if nothing is holding it down!