Last week, I published an article highlighting the importance of communication over documentation when it comes to the Agile approach to product development. This week, as part two of my article, I’m delving into the pillars of Agile Development (and making a recommended addition.)
For starters, people refer to Agile pillars as the ‘Three C’s.’ They consist of Collaboration, Coordination, and Communication.
My suggestion is that we add ‘Ceremonies’ to this list. In my last article, Agile Ceremonies, such as daily stand-ups, sprint planning, sprint reviews, and retrospectives, are an integral part of the process that places emphasis on communication over documentation.
Because they’re so important, I feel as if they deserve standalone recognition on this list.
At TruPropel, for example, Ceremonies are critical to the success of our work. Not only do they bring our team together as we drive towards a common goal, but they also occur in smaller formats over shorter timeframes so we can manage priorities better, accelerate our development process, increase productivity, and improve our team’s alignment.
Let’s dig a little deeper into Agile Ceremonies, what they are, and why they matter.
At the beginning of a sprint, our team gets together to plan the sprint goal (or project objectives) for that stage based on the product backlog. This is an essential meeting because it determines the focus of the sprint, the requirements for deliverables, and the plan of action. The length of our Sprint Planning meeting depends on the length of the sprint. A good rule of thumb is to multiply the length of the sprint (in weeks) by two. So, a sprint planning meeting for a two-week sprint should take about four hours.
Pro Tip: Focus on the backlog only and be mindful of the time it took to implement similar user stories.
Daily Scrum Meetings
At TruPropel, this daily standup meeting is short and sweet. Each team member gives a brief status update as to what they did the day before, what’s on the docket for this day, and what (if any) issues we’re facing. These meetings usually last no longer than 15 minutes.
Pro Tip: Focus on identifying problems, not solving them. Set up time aside with the right people to solve them.
At the end of the sprint, we show everyone what we’ve completed. All stakeholders and Scrum team members gather to demo the software and highlight the tasks finished, identify any issues, and digest feedback.
Pro Tip: In addition to product functionality and UX, be sure to highlight the value you bring to the client and their business.
The retrospective occurs after a sprint review to go over the team’s performance during the sprint, including what went well, what didn’t work, and how to improve going forward. This is an important part of the Agile focus on continuous improvement and iteration. These meetings usually last a couple of hours.
Pro Tip: Even if everything went well, take lessons for improvement into the next sprint!
I’ve been in Product Development for nearly 15 years and throughout my experience in this industry, the best Ceremonies are the ones in which people are actively present, listening, and learning. This is the best way to understand that there is always more than one way to work out solutions to problems. If you’re not actively present and listening, you’re not learning from – and collaborating with – your team members, each of whom brings unique perspectives and insights.
What I love most about our process at TruPropel is that it’s backed by a culture of likeminded people who are engaged, present, confident to speak up and alert the team to potential issues or breakdowns, and who care about continually improving the work we do for our clients.