The anti-pattern I’d like to explore today is the Ponzi roadmap. It usually starts with the best of intentions but has extremely harmful effects as a company scales.
When a company is in the initial stages and has a small engineering and product team the planning model that emerges is what I call the pooled model. Engineering is considered a pool of resources and usually composed of full-stack engineers. The product is typically small and mostly a monolith, every engineer can work on anything and there are just a few PM’s (maybe just one). Since we are all agile, every quarter the PM comes up with a list of priorities and outcomes, engineering staffs the priority from its pool of engineers and delivers outcomes. The next quarter rolls around and we do this all over again. Engineers move on to working on different things every quarter. This makes perfect sense in a small company – but goes horribly wrong as you start scaling up.