Quick Thoughts on Story Points

Over my history as a manager, I’ve seen multiple teams attempt to adopt story points to varying degrees of success. The real key to making story points work when estimating work is persistence. But keep in mind the below.

Inherent Subjectivity

Story points are inherently subjective. The important thing here is to assign story points for each task as a team. It’s also important to review the actual effort required in a retrospective at the end of the sprint, again as a team. This is the only way for the group to understand the value of a single story point as a currency. Which brings me to my next bullet…

Iterate. Iterate. Iterate.

Story points are really only valuable when iterated on. On day one, every member of the team will have a different value ascribed to a story point. For some individuals, a task will seem like 1 point while others will say it is a 4, others still may say infinite. Iteration is the means by which the team comes to a consensus on how much each story point is worth. Only then do they become valuable.

Balancing The Levers

There are two levers to pull on the valuation of a story point:

  1. How much work is represented by a point
  2. How many story points is each individual capable of

The second lever of this is often accidentally overlooked. This is inherently why disagreements arise over story points. A senior software engineer with deep knowledge of the specific work item may feel it is trivial while a more junior team member or somebody with little context will think it is massive.

Finding the balance between the two above levers is critical to making story points work!

Installing Wi-Fi Smart Switches

Smart Switches vs. Smart Bulbs

In my ongoing quest to turn my house into a smart home, I decided to replace many of the important light switches with Leviton Wi-Fi Smart Switches or Dimmers. I chose to use Wi-Fi switches/dimmers instead of smart bulbs for a few reasons:

  • Bulbs require forfeiture of the usage of any existing light switch functionality
  • Light switches allow you to control other motors/appliances, like ceiling fans (which our house has)
  • Smart bulbs require an additional hub (one per 9 bulbs for Philips Hue), using up precious real estate
  • I wanted to replace the existing switches with Decora style switches anyways
  • Fewer always-on devices constantly drawing power
  • Smart switches require a neutral (white wire), since they need to draw power, which is available most if not all of our light switch boxes

Smart bulbs make sense to me in a few scenarios:

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