Decouple Release Timing from Sprint Boundaries

Decouple Release Timing from Sprint Boundaries

I'd like to clear up a bit of confusion about the relationship between releases and Sprints in Scrum. When I first came upon Scrum many years ago, I mistakenly thought that the opportunity to release the product coincided with the end of a Sprint — a simple mistake based on my misunderstanding of the rule stating that the Scrum Team delivers a potentially releasable Increment of "Done" product at the end of each Sprint.

My initial interpretation of this rule was that the Product Owner would typically call for a release after a series of Sprints, each of which produced a potentially shippable increment of the product, as represented by the Planning Snowman in the attached drawing. My thinking went that what we today call a minimal viable product, or MVP, would only be realized after some number of Sprints. In other words a release cycle would go something like Sprint, Sprint, Sprint... Release. In the years since, I have frequently seen this same interpretation among the teams that I coach and the students in my workshops.

I was jolted out of my misinterpretation within the first week as Product Owner on my very first Scrum Team. As it happened, a customer, on seeing a rudimentary version of the product during the first Sprint, insisted upon using it. I was aghast.…

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4 Things - Transforming Harley Davidson

4 Things - Transforming Harley Davidson

Today, in reading the Wall Street Journal, I learned of the August 19th death of Vaughn Beals, former CEO and Chairman of Harley-Davidson, Inc. Reading his obituary reminded me that if it wasn’t for Beals and his executive team it’s highly likely that Harley-Davidson would have succumbed to bankruptcy in the 1980s. Instead, Beals famously turned Harley-Davidson around, fending off bankruptcy and creating the Harley-Davidson that we know today.

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Onward and upward!

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I always enjoy the comraderie of my fellow coaches at the Coaches Clinics and getting to meet the people who come to chat for a 15 minute coaching session. This year's Coaches Clinic at Big Apple Scrum Day in New York City continued the tradition. While every clinic is different based on who shows up, there are two clear constants. One is the coaches' earnest desire to help people with the next leg of their Scrum journey. The second is the energy of the attendees in seeking a way forward.

Everyone's Scrum journey is unique and that is what makes coaching such an interesting vocation. Certainly there are patterns — well worn paths that many have trodden in the search for improvement — but these paths crisscross, double back, circle around, and blend in innumerable ways.

For me, this year's coaching topics ranged from estimation (what a can of worms that one can be!), how to get started with agile, how to improve team focus and accountability when the team is distributed, and variations on how to be a better coach or trainer for the team and the organization. 

I often start the coaching conversation with the question, "What is the difference you want to make?" or a similar variation on the question, "Why?" The intent of this question is to turn the conversation inward to what the attendee really wants to accomplish. This focus is key to the journey. 

On the day following the conference, I went to the John Pierpont Morgan Library and Museum and found the following quote:

No problem can be solved until it is reduced to some simple form. The changing of a vague difficulty into a specific, concrete form is a very essential element in thinking.
— John Pierpont Morgan

The discovery of this quote is another reason I love to come to Big Apple Scrum Day in New York City. It's the people, the history, the learning, the ever changing, but still same enduring quality of what makes us resilient, adaptable, and successful. As J.P. Morgan's bookplates adorning his many thousands of books say, "Onward and upward".