David Anderson’s Recipe for Success



David Anderson distills his software management learnings down into four bullets:

  • Focus on Quality
  • Reduce Work-in-progress
  • Balance capacity against demand
  • Prioritize

He names this set a recipe for success. 

Here’s what the recipe mean to me.

Focus on Quality

For me, focusing on quality means pushing quality upstream, and choosing quality over scope or quantity.  It also means quality isn’t somebody else’s job. 

Reduce Work-in-Progress

Reduce work-in-progress really hits home.

Carrying too much in-flight work leads to excessive task-switching and administrative overhead. 

In the buffet of work to be done, frequent small plates, wins over the single, large plate that over-floweth.       

Balance Capacity Against Demand 

Thinking in terms of demand, helps me right-size execution. 

Specifically, it helps me think in terms of frequency (how often do I need to deliver value), size (how big does the value need to be), and quality (what does good enough look like now versus perfect down the road).  


There’s always more work than we can possibly do. 

To prioritize problems, I think about pervasiveness and impact.  Sometimes I need to prioritize a lesser problem that hits  more people, over a bigger problem that hits few. 

I also keep my teams focused on value delivered vs. work completed.  It’s a subtle shift in mindset, but it makes all the difference.

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