Staying in sync: rhythms of an agile team.

Agile teams are defined in part by their rhythms – the set of meetings and events that the team holds. This is a starter set of rhythms to adopt; once you get up and running, adjust as needed to fit the needs of your team.

Standup (daily)

Keeping the team engaged and aware of one another is important. In addition to working in the same location to enable opportunistic sharing of information, holding a Standup every day is a critical part of thinking and acting like a team.

Standup is held daily at the start of the work day. It should be quick – 60-90 seconds per team member – and focused on sharing information. Attendees should be limited to people who are directly engaged with the team on a daily or near-daily basis (all of the “dedicated” team members, in Etsy terms, and “designated” team members as needed). Generally speaking, Stakeholders do not attend the daily standup.

In the standup, you’re going to spend more time listening than you do talking. This is a good thing; sharing is a two-way street.

When it’s your turn to talk, there are three key pieces of information to share in your 60-90 seconds:

  • What you worked on yesterday
  • What you’re going to work on today
  • Anything that’s keeping you from getting things done right now (or that will soon)

If you have other things to share, or to ask about, consider implementing a Parking Lot for post-Standup discussion.

Backlog Grooming (weekly or biweekly)

Keeping the Backlog healthy requires ongoing work. The Product Owner should have a regularly scheduled meeting to provide time for this. For more, see Backlog Grooming.

Demo Prep (biweekly)

The day prior to the end of the Sprint, the team should hold a brief Demo Planning session; this can often be handled at the end of the Standup for that day. The intent is to determine

  • Which stories will be included in the Demo
  • Who will be doing the Demo for each story

Remember that you should only Demo things which are actually Done. Do not include work-in-progress in a Demo!

Sprint Changeover (biweekly)

The end of the Sprint is a set of activities that take several hours. Beginning teams will find that they spend up to a full day on this, while experienced teams will often be able to get through these meetings in a few hours. Resist the urge to speed things up – speed will come naturally as the team builds expertise with the process and comfort with one another. There are three key activities

Demo

The first part of the Sprint Changeover is the Demo. This is a meeting where the Stakeholders and any other interested parties are invited. The purpose is to show off the team’s completed work and get feedback (and credit) for it.

The person who requested a story should never be surprised in the Demo. Always review stories with the requester before the Demo – if you don’t, how do you know they’re Done?

This meeting should take about an hour, and each team member should be able to show off work at some point. Not all team members enjoying being in the spotlight of the Demo, so be sensitive to that, but make sure that you’re giving everyone a chance to receive credit and praise for their work.

Retrospective

After the Demo, the team needs to have time together in a private, safe space to talk about how things went in the Sprint and what parts of the process the team wants to – and is able to – improve. See Retrospective for more.  Allow at least 2 hours for this activity.

Sprint Planning

The last part of the Sprint Changeover is Sprint Planning.

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