Adapting the Micro-sprint

Finding a balance between synchronous and asynchronous teamwork

Photo by Christophe Hautier on Unsplash

In our previous post, we talked about how we adapted our Micro-sprint approach in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, replacing the face-to-face element with online synchronous meetings using web conferencing tools such as Google Hangouts and Zoom. This approach allowed us to continue with the project in the short amount of time we had to pivot online.

The first fully online sprint went well (although we did have a few issues with Google Hangouts until we moved to Zoom), but by the next session, we could feel that the energy and momentum were not as high as it was in the face-to-face meeting. In my reflection after the end of the sprint, I noted:

Working online works well for many elements of the project but maybe the format of the session needs to change. We are essentially replicating a three-hour face to face session online. Could we be thinking more creatively about delivery?

After some further thought, we realised that the work done in the ‘Do’ part of the sprint could be done asynchronously so that we could make better use of the synchronous time we spent together to do the ‘Plan’, ‘Review’ and ‘Reflect’ elements of the process (read more about What is a Micro-sprint? here).

As a result, we adapted the Micro-sprint approach for online delivery. The next sprint was a 30 minutes synchronous Zoom meeting. As a team, we used Trello to organise our work and assign tasks, so the team were able to self-organise using Slack during the week. The next time we met on Zoom, we reviewed the materials that we had worked on during the week, updated the Trello board and repeated the process.

Finding the balance between synchronous and asynchronous teamwork has been a critical factor in completing the project on time and to schedule. I have found that in the rapid pivot to online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have tried to replicate what we do face-to-face, online to ensure continuity of delivery. However, this doesn’t always translate well.

Does everything need to happen online, synchronously?

Benefits of asynchronous teamwork using online project tools

  • Flexibility to fit work around our schedules
  • No time and location barriers due to different time zones
  • Online communication tools make sure that the team is connected and able to collaborate.
  • Automatic reminders from different project tools are useful to keep the project on track

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