If you are stuck developing for more than two minutes, you MUST ask somebody else

Also known as

Stop the stubborn “I wanna figure it out myself”, ask for help!


You know the situation. Your co-worker does not use the keyboard anymore, and looks worried. There is a lot of sighs. Nothing happens. Then there is “Google to the rescue”. Evidently, someone is trying to solve some problem, but is simply stuck. Everyone knows that just explaining the problem to others frequently helps to solve the problem on the spot! In other cases, there are other team members that have the solution ready at hand.

Think about the implication to the team’s output. You are wasting time. Velocity drops. You can learn, but faster! Ask other team members to help!


This idea is crucial to us for two reasons:

  1. it eliminates waste, as in many situations the knowledge needed to solve the problem at hand is already present in the team.
  2. it amplifies learning, as the more knowledgeable workers have to teach the less knowledgeable ones.


Watch you fellow team members as they are working. It is easy to spot the situation. Your co-worker does not use the keyboard anymore, and looks worried. Then simply ask: “Hey! What are you thinking about? You are too quiet!” This will spawn the appropriate discussion. For real.


The result of applying this idea in practice is that your team will go into team-learning mode. The “heroes” teach the “wannabe-heroes”. Knowledge is shared.


Teams trying to apply this idea sometimes fall into the following pit. The more knowledgeable person pushes the less knowledgeable away from the keyboard in a “OMG let me just do it” style. Fight this attitude. Get the more knowledgeable one into “teaching-mode”. Be aware: this might be hard.


Related Cards: Eliminate Waste, Everybody in a project team is equal, Pair programming.

Relevant literature: Mary and Tom Poppendieck: “Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit.”

Akamai uses a fifteen-minute rule.

The Xebia Essentials Cards

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