Imagine two of your best friends are about to go on a blind date but each was wildly different expectations around how the date is going to go.

Unless you or someone steps in a resets some expectations someone is going to disappointed.

What if instead of proceeding as if everyone was on the same page, you step in and lay down some grounds rules BEFORE the big night. Specifically, you make it clear certain things are off the table.

Now before the date even starts both parties can decide is this date is even worth pursuing.

That’s the idea behind the NOT list. A clear, simple, unambiguous way to set expectations around what you are not going to be doing on your software project.

The NOT list

The NOT list is about making it super clear what’s in (and even more importantly out) of the scope of your project.

IN the big rocks we need to move on this project.

OUT stuff we are going to ignore. It’s off the table.

UNRESOLVED things we still need to figure out. Ideally would move these to IN or OUT before the project begins.

This doesn’t mean the scope isn’t going to change, or we aren’t going to discover things along the way. It’s simply a stake in the ground that says: “No matter how bad things get, if we do these xyz we are going to be OK.”

With a solid NOT list in hand, story writing now becomes a breeze.
You and your team can focus only on the really big rocks and forget everything else.

To learn more about the NOT list, and nine other questions you’d be crazy not to ask at the start of your project, check out the Agile Inception Deck section of The Agile Samurai.