“Agile Working” is really popular right now and has been adopted by many companies. It is a flexible iterative way of working where at the end of an iteration results are shown. The way scrum is implemented can be different per company. Personally I am very proud of the way we use Agile with Scrum at de Persgroep Employment Solutions. Jeff Sutherland has referred to it as ‘Aggressive Scrum’ and it focuses on practices that actually deliver real value Sprint after Sprint after Sprint. In this following blog post I will share some of the things that we have learned.
When I joined my current team as a scrum master, the sprint length was set at one week. This seemed to be too short of a time period to be able to deliver real value. So I started researching this to see if it was a good practice. The agile guide gives little advice on how long your sprint length should be. The advice is … A sprint is a fixed time or period, from one to four weeks with a preference towards shorter intervals. So what is the benefit of choosing for a one week sprint duration? The answer to this is in way that the scrum framework is set up. It makes the impediments that a team has clear and transparent. The shorter the sprint, the earlier that impediments arise, the sooner they can be handled and fixed.
Another benefit that became clear to me is that a shorter sprint duration helps to create more focus on delivering value. Retrospectives are held more frequently and adjustments for improving the team are also done in smaller, often more easy steps. Because of the strong focus, the planning sessions are clearer and the amount of ‘dark work’ is reduced to a minimum. Dark work is work which is not intended for the sprint but comsumes team time anyway. Next to this the Product Owner has more time to update and adjust the backlog based on stakeholder needs.
To deliver a real finished product within a week is always a challenge. In order to do this, you really need to have your way of working setup properly. It influences the way we design, build, test and deploy where automation is key. My team manages to deliver real valuable slices to production which we proudly demo in our weekly sprint review.
The short sprint length keeps us really focused. For me this is a great insight and a confirmation of the quality that scrum and the way of agile working gives. This doesn’t mean we will never change this, we are always open for experimentation and continued learning.