Skip to main content

13+2 Sprint Cadence

Sprint length - a fun debate. What is the best practice - a funny question. There is no best practice for sprint length.  But what factors should go into the decision?


  • The team's ability to become predictable within the sprint duration.
  • The Product Owner's ability to plan and to commit to the unknown of not changing the plan for the sprint's duration.
  • The frequency of needed feedback on the direction the team is making toward the release goal.
  • The ability of the team to create their sustainable pace.


Many team's I've worked with have trouble defining their sustainable pace.  I've argued that this pace that allows the team to deliver both working software that is potentially shippable each sprint and to have high quality deliverables along with team learning is quite a bit below the teams typical sprint velocity.

When teams are under extreme pressure to deliver they typically forget one of the 7 habits of effective people - to sharpen the saw.  So why not build this habit into the structure of your team's cadence?  Instead of a two week sprint (10 work days) try the 13+2 model.  Thirteen work days followed by 2 days of slack (read the book: Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork and the Myth of Total Efficiency).

This slack will give the team time to reflect upon the many things they wish they had time to do, but didn't; and now perhaps they will do them.  Silly little task like cleaning up the automated build scripts, pruning out the dead wood out of the smoke tests, refactoring the last story to a design pattern that now appear obvious after the fact.

This three week sprint length will add in 13% slack to your sprint in a tempo that is easily predictable for the team members.  You might find that the team members start using this 2 day slack time for things like doctor visits and Fed-Ex days.

See Also:
Slack and the Manager's Role in Scrum by Andrew Fuqua
21 Tips on Choosing a Sprint Length by Mishkin Berteig

Hat tip to my friend Caleb Jenkins for the idea - I told him he better patent the idea, or I would steal it.


Post a Comment

Most Popular on Agile Complexification Inverter

David's notes on "Drive"

- "The Surprising Truth about what Motivates Us" by Dan Pink.

Amazon book order
What I notice first and really like is the subtle implication in the shadow of the "i" in Drive is a person taking one step in a running motion.  This brings to mind the old saying - "there is no I in TEAM".  There is however a ME in TEAM, and there is an I in DRIVE.  And when one talks about motivating a team or an individual - it all starts with - what's in it for me.

Introduction

Pink starts with an early experiment with monkeys on problem solving.  Seems the monkeys were much better problem solver's than the scientist thought they should be.  This 1949 experiment is explained as the early understanding of motivation.  At the time there were two main drivers of motivation:  biological & external influences.  Harry F. Harlow defines the third drive in a novel theory:  "The performance of the task provided intrinsic reward" (p 3).  This is Dan Pink's M…

What is your Engagement Model?

What must an Agile Transformation initiative have to be reasonably assured of success?

We "change agents" or Agilist, or Organizational Development peeps, or Trouble Makers, or Agile Coaches have been at this for nearly two decades now... one would think we have some idea of the prerequisites for one of these Transformations to actually occur.  Wonder if eight Agile Coaches in a group could come up with ONE list of necessary and sufficient conditions - an interesting experiment.  Will that list contain an "engagement model"?  I venture to assert that it will not.  When asked very few Agile Coaches, thought leaders, and change agents mention much about employee engagement in their plans, models, and "frameworks".  Stop and ask yourselves ... why?

Now good Organizational Development peeps know this is crucial, so I purposely omitted them from that list to query.

One, central very important aspect of your Agile Transformation will be your Engagement model.  

Exercise:: Definition of Ready & Done

Assuming you are on a Scrum/Agile software development team, then one of the first 'working agreements' you have created with your team is a 'Definition of Done' - right?



Oh - you don't have a definition of what aspects a user story that is done will exhibit. Well then, you need to create a list of attributes of a done story. One way to do this would be to Google 'definition of done' ... here let me do that for you: http://tinyurl.com/3br9o6n. Then you could just use someone else's definition - there DONE!

But that would be cheating -- right? It is not the artifact - the list of done criteria, that is important for your team - it is the act of doing it for themselves, it is that shared understanding of having a debate over some of the gray areas that create a true working agreement. If some of the team believes that a story being done means that there can be no bugs found in the code - but some believe that there can be some minor issues - well, …

Refactoring - examples from the book

Martin Fowler's book Refactoring:  Improving the Design of Existing Code has a simple example of a movie rental domain model, which he refactors from a less than ideal object-oriented design to a more robust OO design. Included in this Refactoring_FirstExample.zip Zip file are the Java source code files of the Movie, Rental, and Customer classes. Along with a JUnit CustomerTest class. Using these example source files you too can follow along with the refactoring that Fowler presents in the first few chapters of his book.


Metrics for a Scrum Team (examples)

What metrics do you collect to analyze your scrum team?

We live in a world of data and information.  Some people have a mindset that numbers will diagnose all problems – “just show me the data.”  Therefore many directors and senior managers wish to see some list of metrics that should indicate the productivity and efficiency of the Scrum team.  I personally believe this is something that can be felt, that human intuition is much better in this decision realm than the data that can be collected.  However, one would have to actually spend time and carefully observe the team in action to get this powerful connection to the energy in a high-performing team space.  Few leaders are willing to take this time, they delegate this information synthesis task to managers via the typical report/dashboard request.  Therefore we are asked to collect data, to condense this data into information, all while ignoring the intangible obvious signals (read Honest Signals by Sandy Pentland of MIT).
What if …