In my last blog post, I wrote about why it is important to keep the sprint backlog static after leaving sprint planning. Unfortunately, much of my previous blog involved a great deal of arm waving (or possibly flailing) as I hoped to highlight the problem of disrupting your sprint. What it didn’t offer up was concrete ways each of us can contribute to the solution, and that’s why I’m writing today. I’ve split this blog into sections in an effort to talk to each of an organizations’ roles separately. I encourage you to read each section, and I hope you take the time to read your part in detail. Additionally, in the “For Team Members” section, you’ll see a workflow that will take team members through the questions they should ask before pulling new work into the sprint. Although this workflow is specific to my own company, once modified, it could add value to yours.
For Team Members
It should be your last resort to ask for more work to be added to the sprint. Unfortunately, it’s often your first course of action when you’re idle. Inefficiency has its place on a team, if done smartly, so don’t fear it. Before you ask the Scrum Master or Product Owner to add another story, think through the following:
- Teams goals over individual tasks. Albeit inefficient, where can you help another team member complete his/her task? Pair up and work through it together.
- Finishing tasks over opening another. “Everything stinks till it’s finished.” -Dr. Seuss. This is especially true in software development. Be inefficient to get that last 10% done in a task before you move on to the next.
- Cross-functional teams over silos. Everybody has an area they’re best at, but where can you grow? Be inefficient for the sake of learning a new skill and potentially removing a future bottleneck. Take on a task outside your skill set and ask for the team’s help to learn something new.
Again, I can’t emphasize this enough. Before you ask for something to be added to the sprint, you should spend a good deal of energy into trying to help the team figure out how it can meet its current goals.