This week we had a go at an Extreme Agile Sprint.
Why ? We, or rather I, had been doing maintenance sprints over a more classical 3 week period and frankly after 3 sprints or 9 weeks I was bored. At What’sMySize we mess with sprints all the time, I have hacked in sales to agile and talked about its pro’s and cons at conferences and we run 1 week sprints documented in our Playbook.
However the Extreme Agile Sprint was a little different even for us. Was it possible to deliver something useful in a two days ? We thought it might be but needed to be co-located and opted for coffee shops and pubs in sight of the River Thames.
Location Location Location
On Day 1 we picked Giraffe in Victoria as this allowed Keri and Russ to do school runs and was central for the rest of us. Sam picked Giraffe and it was rather perfect for chatting, wifi and yummy fixed priced breakfast.
On day two I picked Tate Modern at London Bridge and it was terrible, no plug points, poor internet and fabulous views. We moved onto the Table which also has tasty if expensive food. Our final location was a lovely chandelier lit pub.
Over the last few years I have run around the globe and the thing that remain consistent is having meetings in coffee shops. From NYC, Delhi and Singapore meetings rooms are at a premium. So it doesn’t seems strange to use London as a giant office playground for our sprint.
In future I plan to base all my Extreme Agile Sprint sprints in the pub. Although I might choose a coffee shop for a more sober morning and transfer to the pub in the afternoon. We will ensure its in budget or that the organisation can pick up the tab.
We didn’t change a thing from our standard week sprints as documented in our Playbook. So stand up and retrospectives etc stayed the same just squeezed into a shorter time.
Obviously we knew this would be reduced. We invited Sam who’s background is in classical sales and proceeded to have an entertaining Sprint Planning while he grasped the concept of points and immediately negotiated them down.
After months of being locked up writing my book I opted to pair up with Russ for two days. Even though I didn’t have much sprint activity and the few stories that required me I “delegated”. It cost me a small fortune in drinks and food but was great for the soul. I got to peer over his shoulder at our code, I stretched the grey matter as Russ debated logic questions I could answer and recalled all those odd architecture decisions that we have taken but didn’t see the need to document as we didn’t realise it would impact. It meant that there will be no surprises when we did the retrospective (I hope).
I found a lot of the conversations around me distracting. The young children screaming, the chap being managed out of his hotel management company and the Indian Vodaphone contract for a French mobile phone app which clearly was falling into a cultural heap. I absorbed so much that I was ready to step in and solve all these situations it wasn’t going to help my tasks in the slightest.
My favourite part of Extreme Agile locked in a sprint was being able to take a stroll up to Buckingham Palace look at the ducks and connect with Russ who I had only met in meetings since our last away day in Prague.
We didn’t think through our deployment plan and it caused us a time crunch on the sprint. We normally drop code on Staging on Friday review on Monday and then push live so we have all week in the office in case there was issues. As we weren’t doing back to back sprints with the same team we wanted to go live with in two days. This become challenging when we realised that Russ’s dev environment needed a rebuild and we could loose between an hour or three from the day. Sadly we can’t run a mop up sprint and there are these tasks hanging around. A classical Agile evangelist might be groaning but hey ho I have to live in the real world and will need to get it delivered. Which will mean a hack to the process.
We had 8 positives and 10 improvements. Which means we have things to fix. However we had been in a rut our previous sprints which generated between 3 to 5 items. Clearly changing up the process had been a worthwhile experiment in working better.
Doing it Again
Absolutely. Our next sprint will be after our summer holidays this month. The agenda is in the diary. The pubs chosen, the breaks built in and the deployment period stated.