Agile Value - Persistable and Stackable

Episode 106 - 15 Nov 2017

A couple of episodes ago, I made the outrageous statement that - in an Agile world - 1+1 can equal 3

It wasn’t mathematical sleight of hand.

It was a natural consequence of two properties of VALUE: Persistence and Stackability.

Feathers. Ruffled.

So the “1 + 1 = 3” episode went out. And it’s fair to say that I ruffled some feathers.

One person even used the word “misleading”.

What did I say to elicit such a response?

Let me show you:


I work on two things - features, if you like - over the course of two weeks.

And release them at the same time.

In week 3, they deliver two units of value.

Nothing too controversial so far, I hope? 2 units of work producing 2 units of value.


Let’s start again:

Two features again. But this time I release them one at a time.

Feature A goes live and delivers one unit of value in week 2,

It continues to deliver value into week 3.

So when Feature B goes live,

Its value STACKS on top of the value provided by feature B.

  • 2 units of work in
  • 3 units of value OUT.

1 + 1 = 3

Stack and Persist

For what I’ve just shown you is true, a couple of things have to be true about Value:

  • It must PERSIST.
  • And it must STACK.

Time to move away from the theory and into a real-life example.


How about this video?

The one you’re watching right now.

Conveniently, it took one week to complete.

it was published on Wednesday at 3pm UK time when

  • and only then - did it begin to deliver value.

Is it a value that’s persistable?

Even if you’re really enjoying this episode, I doubt you’ll watch it again.

It’s hardly “Toy Story”.

So this video doesn’t deliver persistent value in that sense.

Of course, you’re not my only viewer.

What tends to happen is a bunch of people watch an episode on the day it comes out

And then it settles down.

And - if I’m really lucky - it picks up again.

The “Scrum vs Kanban” episode is one example of that.


Contrast that with pre-internet TV.

Especially a news broadcast.

ALL of the value delivered during the broadcast.

No persistence whatsoever.


Back to this video again.

Is its value stackable?

When this episode came out, did people immediately stop watching other episodes?

No. At least I hope not!

But the existence of this episode might impact the viewing figures of a similar video.

So the stacking is not perfect.

There’s some cannibalisation.

But perfect stacking is possible:

Not far from me is the site of (now defunct)

sausage manufacturer Walls

Seems that people don’t eat so many sausages in the summer months

Leaving Walls with spare manufacturing capacity

Which they used to make ice cream.

The products are so different that one didn’t impact the other

No product cannibalisation

Perfect stacking.

Your turn

I’ve done all the talking so far. Now I want to hear from you.

  • What are examples of value that persists? And value that doesn’t persist?

  • And what are examples of value that stacks perfectly? And imperfectly?

Let me know in the comments below.