The most WIP limit resistance award goes to…
developers! (In my experience, at least.)
Most people think that it would be managers or other people putting pressure on developers that would prevent WIP (work-in-process) limits from being implemented. However, in my experience managing three teams, each time it is the developers themselves that resist WIP limits. Now, this sample is not huge, but I definitely see a trend. There could be many causes to this, including outside pressure, but I am seeing a lot of desire to work on the new shiny idea above all else.
There are definitely times in which something should be expedited above things already in progress, but that shouldn’t be the norm. Developers tell me they get a sense of accomplishment and purpose by their work being used and appreciated. Conversely, they are demotivated and upset when their work gets thrown away or isn’t appreciated. So, then, why are they doing basically the same thing? We need to help developers, and others, realize that their behaviors can do exactly what demotivates them and subvert the ability to achieve that desired sense of accomplishment and purpose.
Constantly changing priorities is not good regardless of from where it stems. We need to remind our teams that reaching for the new shiny is a fleeting happy sensation which lasts only until the next new thing. But, if you strive to get ongoing work completed, you can feel that continual pride for the life of your product.
Don’t let your hard work languish in a source code repository. Stop starting and start finishing!