WIP is waste

A manifesto on work, waste, cost and value. With respect to our ultimate benefactors, end users.

It’s done, I’m just waiting on a review

It’s complete, I just need to do some final testing

It’s ready, I just need to merge and deploy

End users do not care. Nor should they. Nor can they. To the end user, this work provides no value. It doesn’t exist.

Work in progress has zero value. Ship!

  • Before a task is shipped it provides zero value.
  • Any work in progress is pure cost.
  • Two tasks in progress adds cost, for no value.
  • Only after shipping do you create value. Always ship.
  • One task shipped is infinitely better than 4 tasks “almost done”.
  • Ship something of value first. Then begin something new.

A bonus on progress updates

It’s the end of another week. Your team is preparing your high-level project update for stakeholders and leadership. What’s important here? What shipped! Compare the following:

We have 2 tasks ready to deploy, 1 in testing and 1 in review

Stakeholders, and end users, rightly translate this as “We shipped nothing last week AKA we provided no value to our users”.


We shipped 2 tasks last week

This isn’t just optics. This is cold, hard value in end users hands! Versus nothing. This is the cost of delay.