Uncommitment

Uncommitment
Intent
: Allow unplanned work into a timebox.

Proverbs: The sluggard who does not sow in season does not reap at the harvest

Motivation: Team members who do not value the Product or Sprint Goal, or who are allowed to accept other priorities, may be tempted to admit unplanned work into a Sprint. This can include work from forceful parties which the Product Owner does not value. Product Owners who do not value the Product or Sprint Goal can themselves be tempted to trade unplanned work into a Sprint Backlog to the detriment of value produced.

Structure: Team members collaborate with each other in a workstream. The workstream may encompass either Business As Usual activities or project work delivered in multiple sprints with sprint goals. However, product ownership will be weak and any sprint goals may be unclear. Team membership may be ill-defined and/or the backlog may not be respected by them.

Applicability: Clear goals and the careful management of time-boxes are central to agile methods such as Scrum and DSDM. Business As Usual work can encourage uncommitment in so far as there may be no time-boxed goal to commit to. As such, Kanban teams can face unique challenges regarding product ownership, the replanning of work, and team commitment to any forecasts made.

Consequences: A Product Owner who does not value the product will have little incentive to help teams formulate Sprint goals, or to exert pull on a team for delivery. Team purpose and/or discipline will therefore be compromised. Sprint Goals may not be met, or the value delivered may be less than that expected. 

Implementation
: Uncommitment can take either of two forms: uncommitment by the team to a forecast backlog of work, or uncommitment by a product owner to the product being delivered. The result is the same in either case: the planned backlog will be compromised and the expected value is unlikely to be delivered.