Sprints Are Transforming the Way We Work

If there’s one thing that’s constant it’s that everything changes. This fact sparked radical change in the way software was built and is influencing the way people are doing UX design, product design, business strategy and marketing.

The problem with traditional, sequential, development is that it’s totally inflexible. Briefs are never right the first time and stakeholders will always need to change things. In extreme cases the software fails to get traction in the wild and needs reinventing completely.

Scrum in Silicon Valley (Tv Show)

Professors Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka boldly accepted that some problems cannot be fully understood or defined. They developed a methodology called Scrum to maximise speed and give them the ability to respond to new requirements.

Where a developer might have originally been left alone for a few months to build a product from a brief, Scrum factors in constant check ins through rigid process.

  1. Stakeholders outline their Product Backlog
    From a scope tasks are created. These tasks are grouped into obvious features.
  2. Stakeholders outline the Sprint Backlog
    A feature is chosen to be developed over a fixed period of 1–4 weeks. This period is called a Sprint.
  3. Sprint starts
    Developers are assigned tasks to complete over the period of the Sprint.
  4. Daily stand-up
    Every day at a fixed time developers must attend a 15 minute meeting to cover:
    1. The work completed in the prior day
    2. The work planned for the following day
    3. Any impediments that prevent work from happening
  5. Sprint review
    At the end of the Sprint the work is presented to the stakeholders where focus and direction can be adjusted.

In small teams products can often be built with no project manager at all. Hackathon teams, who get together to build products in 24–48 hours, are perfect examples of this. Scrum is an off-the-shelf solution every developer knows and they are super efficient for it (helped along by energy drinks and not enough time).

“To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time.” ― Leonard Bernstein

Scrum doesn’t need to apply only to software development though. Any product that has never been made before can make use of it. What’s more is that real value can be taken from it without using every part. For example, at IU most of our project have a daily stand-up to briefly discuss progress and plans.

The Guardian published a brilliant post about how they use ‘Creative Sprints’ to design UX. Creative Sprints are a bit like mini Scrums and last only a few days. Their end goal isn’t necessarily about creating a product, but coming up with ideas and trying them out.

User experience can’t be thought up, its validation is done through prototyping. The same thing is true for marketing. Growth hacking website GrowthHackers.com increased their traffic substantially by trying lots of things over a short period of time. They gamified ideas to encourage every employee to input, knowing that there’s only so many one person can come up with.

We’ve used ‘Creative Sprints’ with great success in our workshops. With designers and developers at our disposal we help attendees validate their ideas a few moments after they have them. It’s a lot of fun and means problems are seen from different angles and solved in different ways.

How could you use Sprints in your business?

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