“Well I thought that it fits in with your other responsibilities.”
“That’s true. But we’re not working on it, we’re working on these other things. You can put whatever you want in our yellow circle, but that’s it.”
“The yellow circle?”
See, I model our team’s areas of responsibility as three circles. The yellow system is everything we’re responsible for — all the legacy systems and infrastructure have to belong to some team, and these are carved out for us. Some we know little about.
Inside the yellow circle is an orange circle: the systems we plan to improve. These appear on our backlog in JIRA epics. We talk about them sometimes.
Inside the orange circle, a red circle: active work. These systems are currently under development by our team. We talk about them every day, we add features and tests, we garden them.
That yellow circle holds a lot of risks: when something there breaks we’ll stop our active work and learn until we can stand it back up. Management may add items here, as they recognize the schedule risk. We sometimes spend bits of time researching these, to reduce our fear of pager duty.
The orange circle holds a lot of hope, our ambitions for the year and the quarter. We choose these in negotiation with management.
The red circle is ours. We decide what to work on each day, based on plans, problems, and pain. Pushing anything directly into active work is super rude and disruptive.
“OK, it’s in the yellow circle, cool. I’ll work on hiring more people, so we can expand the orange and red circles too.”