‘Teams that Finish Early Accelerate Faster’

This is an excellent article: Teams That Finish Early Accelerate Faster.  It is by Jeff Sutherland and others.

It addresses a key issue:  How do we get Scrum teams to be more successful?

One answer is that ‘scrum’ teams are not always doing Scrum. More likely, they are not doing all of Scrum.  We know from experience that not doing all of Scrum (which is a bare framework) is often the key reason for the reduced success.

There are things to ‘add’, to the bare framework of Scrum.  Here are the key ideas mentioned in Dr. Sutherland’s article.

  • Stable Teams

We need the Scrum Team to be stable.  It is hard to improve if the people are changing.  Key to success.

  • Yesterday’s Weather

This is a well-known agile/scrum pattern.  Knowing your velocity; only ‘commit’ the sprint to the same velocity that you succeed in finishing last Sprint.

Note that you can get better, increase your velocity, by removing impediments and then by completing additional (small) stories at the end of the Sprint.

  • Swarming

This is a less well known pattern, where there is less understanding about how to do it well. There is general discussion in the community about ‘swarming’ but it is not about this pattern…at least not directly about this pattern.

The idea is that each story in the Sprint has a Captain. If a story is in trouble, then everyone in the Team should offer to help the Captain. In general, the Captain must be open to help. The Captain can decide how much help is needed, will be useful…although he/she may get feedback from the Team on his/her decisions.

This is similar to ‘single piece continuous flow’ in Lean.

  • Interrupt Pattern

Implement a simple process to minimize and handle urgent, high-priority interruptions during the Sprint.

  • Daily Clean Code

Fix all bugs in less than a day. Aim to have a completely clean base of code at the end of every day.

  • Emergency Procedure

If the Team gets behind in a Sprint, have an identified ’emergency procedure’ to execute to get back into a good position quickly.  (Specific steps are proposed.)

  • Scrumming the Scrum

Identify the single most important impediment in the Sprint Retrospective and remove it before the end of the next sprint.

  • Happiness Metric

Ask 2 questions on a 1-5 scale.  If the Team average drops, gather the Team to identify the root cause and address it.

  • Teams that Finish Early Accelerate Faster

The Team should only ‘commit’ to what they know they can accomplish ‘reliably’ (70+% of the time).  Once they become reliable, then they can use the other patterns to accelerate more, (increase the Velocity).

Apparently we must repeat: We are accelerating without working any harder (any more hours).  And working reasonable hours.  How? By working cleverly and with greater automation, via fixing impediments.


I summarized some of the key points in the paper; sometimes loosely, with some of my ideas.

There are many other great ideas and further explanations in the paper itself.

Enjoy!  Help your Team get better, and help your customers have a better life!


Comments welcome!



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