Agile QuickTip: Using a Shared Daily Goal to make Your Sprint more Valuable

Using a Shared Daily Goal to make Your Sprint more Valuable

The idea of a ‘Shared Daily Goal’ is really simple, and by using this tactic at the end of every scrum, you might see a huge impact on how valuable your daily scrum meetings are.

The daily scrum or daily stand-up is all about maximizing transparency and alignment for your entire agile team.

At this meeting, the entire team gets together and explores the progress and challenges of previous 24 hours and these impacts the collective plans for the next 24 hours. They can use this time to share progress, to explore challenges, and to bring into the light unexpected issues which have come up. For many Scrum teams, this results in the stand-up becoming very activity-focused. What is the progress that’s happened on specific tasks, and what activities will be happening in the next 24 hours?

One idea which can make your teams a lot more effective and aligned, is using a shared goal of the day.

At the end of each scrum, help the team define a collective goal for day – a major achievement that they are working towards.  This is the goal that as a team is going to focus on over the next 24 hours.

This technique can provide a greater sense of purpose and alignment, not only around the activities and tasks that each team member ha, but also for advancing the overarching goals of the sprint as a whole.

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Agile QuickTip: Begin and End Your Sprint in the Middle of the Day

Begin and End Your Sprint in the Middle of the Day

My latest Agile QuickTip is all about how ending and starting your sprints in the middle of the day might make your team way more effective.

Most scrum teams will end their sprints at the end of the day, and then start the next one the very next morning. Here is an idea that shakes up this traditional routine, and one which I’ve seen be really effective. Why not begin and end your sprints in the middle of the day?

Here’s how it works in practice.

Your team’s end of sprint activities — the review and retrospective — will take place in the morning, and then you start with sprint planning for the next sprint right after lunch, or early in the afternoon.

I’ve found this to be particularly useful for internationally distributed teams who are spread across the globe, as it allows them to maximise their overlap time where different countries are still all experiencing the working day, something which doesn’t happen if you call a meeting for 9am local time.

By starting and ending in the middle of the day, you can look back on the sprint immediately and start planning for the next one. This emphasis the focus of the day on Improvement. How to improve your processes; how to improve the product; and how to leverage what we’ve learnt to immediately start exploring way to make the next sprint far more effective.

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Agile QuickTip: Use a Calendar to Make your Sprint Planning Meeting More Accurate

Using a calendar to drive your sprint planning meeting can make your sprint plan a lot more successful.

Every sprint starts with sprint planning. Sprint planning is where team members and their product owner collaborate to define a plan to maximize the value of the upcoming sprint.

This will sometimes include outlining the timeline for the sprint, along with often defining and estimating specific tasks or activities that need completing in order to achieve the sprint goals.

Challenges;

One challenge that teams often have is that some team members find it hard to visualize the plan. They may fail to consider availability or lag issues. This can result in a less than accurate plan.

One technique which I find helpful is to use a calendar as the starting point for defining the sprint plan.

That helps illustrate people’s availability. On the calendar you can mark when team members have PTO or vacation days; when they are already scheduled for training or offsites, or any other activity that could interfere with the timeline of your sprint. In some cases there could be planned interruptions to the whole team, such as department all-hands meetings, or national holidays.

With these days marked from the start, your team can plan around those days, considering the impact at the start of the sprint. Some teams find it valuable to use this visualization on the calendar to start planning with the end of the sprint in mind, and then plan their sprints backwards, helping teams to come up with a plan that everyone can visualize and understand.

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Agile QuickTip: Publishing your Team’s Definition of Done

Publishing your Scrum team’s definition of done

Taking the extra step of publishing your scrum team’s definition of ‘done’ could help your agile team to collaborate and focus on getting things finished.

Every scrum team and every agile team is always looking for ways to deliver as much value as possible in each sprint. This means maximizing what they can finish.

The problem is, that sometimes when one person claims a story is done, it might not mean the same thing as another person calling it done. This creates ambiguity and a lack of transparency, and causes frustration on teams when things seem less ‘complete’ than expected.

Transparency

Creating more transparency can really help here. By publishing an explicit and visible definition of done that exhausts all the things the team has to do to get a story complete, it alleviates that ambiguity.

Now, when one team members says something is ‘done’, it means the same to every other team member. By publishing the definition and making it explicit, even other stakeholders and product owner know what it means for work be complete.

This makes it easier for the whole scrum or agile team to collaborate and align their efforts to get this work done. This also helps keep the team a lot more focused on maximizing the value they can deliver.

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