There's no way one can't but be amazed by the editorial business. Take magazines, for example: those journalists, writers, editors, photographers, and a huge array of professionals I’m not even aware of, have a specified amount of time to deliver a full-blown magazine. For magazines this may be only a couple of months or a couple of weeks, but if you migrate to newspapers we are talking about mere 24 hours! Some newspapers even have two daily issues: morning and evening.
It is just blissful to appreciate how these professionals work. Time is ticking and the whole production cycle has to be followed. No news is to be published without solid grounds or a great level of quality scrutiny. And they manage to pull it through, one issue after another despite technological ups- and-downs. Regular content creation is va alid and lucrative century-long business. The thing these guys got right since the very beginning is timeboxing. As a word, timeboxing is possibly not in their vocabulary – it is just the way they have always worked. We have a lot to learn from them.
Deadlines set too far
In the IT industry, deadlines have always been too far away in the future. Our timeboxes – if they are even seen as such – are too big. Our minds can't fully wrap around the concept that a timebox is as long as three months, or six months, or even years. Things change too rapidly as well and our well-made plans blow up to smithereens; deadlines slip.
Short, limited and irrefutable timeboxes, as used in the editorial industry for so many decades, are simply ideal.
The newspaper has to be out on the streets every morning at 3.00 – no excuses. If you set up a business that must deliver a new version of a product every three months, the very same rules apply: the new version has to be out every three months – no excuses.
In order to avoid long timeboxes, a proper break down into multiple shorter, palpable timeboxes is needed. The mental commitment with timeboxes is crucial and affects how our business interacts with its environment.
If an article is not polished enough to be on tomorrow's newspaper, the editor will cut it out – no harm done. The article can be published on a later issue or be dropped totally. It is business as usual. If a feature is not polished enough to be on your next product's release, it should be cut out – no harm done; have it on a later product or drop it.
Timeboxing requires guts
In the IT industry we have been trying to learn timeboxing for many years, but there is still a long way to go. It requires a brave mentality and guts for compromises.
Nokia's CEO, Stephen Elop, recently said in an interview that he intends to solve Nokia's constant product release delays by not publicly announcing releases anymore. This is comparable to a newspaper editor saying that tomorrow's newspaper won't be out and that he prefers not saying when it will ever be out – a very contrary example of what a dynamic, agile and timeboxed company should be doing.