May 14, 2021


News for Agilists

Slow Thinking for successful Sprints!

Given that Projects are compatible with the Scrum Framework. So, it is equally important that each of us understands, How this manifesto complements the Sprint and supports empiricism? It completely depends on the way we visualize and perform activities appropriately and that matters the most.

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. — Wayne Dyer

It is interesting, isn’t it? Now let us explore each statement of the manifesto and its alignment with Sprint to understand its relevance with the Scrum events by applying the Slow Thinking Manifesto.

This statement resonates well with the purpose of the Sprint Planning event. As we know by the end of the Sprint Planning event, the Sprint Goal and the formulation of flexible and emergent Sprint Backlog is a must. The people fulfilling the roles within the Scrum Framework must be open, curious to ask questions before focusing on the solution. By asking below listed questions at the Sprint Planning event.

  • Why are we planning to build an increment in this Sprint?
  • What customer pain points are we solving this Sprint?
  • What business objective are we trying to accomplish this Sprint?

Though some may feel that answers are very important to do things right like implementation and execution. I would like to emphasize that finding answers will be beneficial and useful for everyone at Sprint Planning as long as they address the right questions for the right things.

This statement resonates well with the Daily Scrum event. After the Daily Scrum, the observations are more important before evaluation. For instance, people observing the flat burn-down chart quickly arrive at conclusions. They evaluate that the Development Team has pulled up a story that is large enough to complete which resembles the Fast Thinking ability of their brains. On the other hand spending effort by trying to ask the Development Team the challenges they are facing and then considering evaluations based on them relates to Slow Thinking. The observations could be the patterns of the Development Team engages itself during the Daily Scrum.

Hence, the evaluations done might lose their point, if the observations are not noticed appropriately. Empiricism will not be upheld in its true essence in such instances as mentioned in the below statement.

Adaptation without observation and reflective inspection misses the direction. — Gunther Verheyen

So Slow Thinking enables us by providing a myriad of observations that will help us categorize the behaviors that are both complementing or conflicting the purpose of the Daily Scrum listed out below to arrive at actionable evaluations.

Complementing behaviors

  • Highly collaborative and synchronized conversation amongst the Development Team focusing on the Sprint Goal.
  • The Development Team members holding each other accountable for the purpose and time-box.

Conflicting behaviors

  • Open-ended discussion beyond time-box without a focus on the Sprint Goal.
  • The Development Team discussing the solution for a problem called out by a team member.
  • Each member of the Development Team is providing status updates to each other.

This statement resonates well with the purpose of the Sprint Review. As the whole purpose of the Sprint Review is to elicit feedback and foster collaboration between the Scrum Team and key stakeholders. Employing the change of perspective during the event is very crucial to deeply understand the reasons to gain insightful feedback. For instance, it helps to visualize key aspects of the customer behavior changes based on a recent feature launch. This will help in beginning the right conversations to optimize the value to identify the right set of Product Backlog items for the upcoming Sprint.

The customer behavior changes need to be clearly understood before we listen and share each other’s point of view statements at the Sprint Review. The Scrum Team and the stakeholders must focus on exploring and understanding customer perspectives like demographic details etc. in a deliberate manner by applying Slow Thinking. After that move towards sharing and expressing their point of view statements for any further call to action. The perspectives can be explored using the below questions,

  • What are the conditions that drive customer behaviors to buy or use the services offered within the product?
  • What are the challenges that customer faces while using the product and how valid they are?

This statement resonates well with the purpose of the Sprint Retrospective. As the purpose of the Sprint Retrospective is all about identifying actionable continuous improvement items for the next Sprint. The action items are identified across the domains of people, relationships, ways of working, and development practices. Self-reflection evokes our Slow Thinking ability to build awareness either individually or as a group of individuals with respect to the Scrum Team during the Sprint Retrospective. People due to their Fast Thinking ability might quickly label the term criticism relating it to a negative connotation although there are many forms of criticism. I would like to stress that constructive criticism is helpful when it results in creative tension within the Scrum Team. This creative tension fosters the dynamics of team engagement and optimizes their collective performance.

Self-reflection can be done using the questions below,

  • What are the top 3 action items that help us work together a whole team to achieve our Sprint Goal at the earliest?
  • What are the changes in our belief system that would increase the impact of the product?
  • How can we improve our ways of working to improve product quality consistently?
  • What are the key improvements to build sustainability as part of our work?

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