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Agile Glossary – Sustainable Pace
Agile, Git, Productivity, Scrum

Agile Glossary – Sustainable Pace


Every team aims to have a work pace that is able to sustain itself indefinitely.

This means it’s necessary to have a firm refusal of what is usually considered a “necessary evil” in the software industry – long hours of work, working overtime, or even nights and weekends. Therefore this “practice” is more of a contract negotiated between the teams and their managers.

Also Known As

The term “sustainable pace”, was originally proposed by Kent Beck himself, in attempt to replace the original “40 hour a week” denomination that everyone else was using.


The mindset behind Agile views recourse to overtime, other than on a exceptional basis, as adverse to productivity rather than enhancing it. Overtime tends to hide the schedule, management or quality deficiencies; the Agile approach favors exposing such deficiencies as soon as possible and fixing their main causes, rather than merely treating the symptoms.

Academic Publications

There is an idea that research in manufacturing industries shows that overtime has a negative impact on productivity.

Some exceptions apply when transposing this to software development; one review considers the research in this area uncertain; even the definition term “productivity” is problematic in the context of knowledge work; few studies appear to have been performed specifically to overtime among knowledge workers.

Some articles and presentations have made a strong case against overtime in the software development context, and provided further data to published academic research.