one week sprints

How Our One Week Sprints Are Like Blazing a Trail

We run one week sprints at Revelry. Yep, you read that right. ONE. WEEK. And we recently had an epiphany about how these sprints are a lot like blazing a trail. Here’s why…

A few years back, one of our engineering leaders shared an article titled Introductory bullshit detection for non-technical managers on our PM team Slack channel. This led another member of our team to chime in with some top takeaways, among them the: “The 80/50 Rule.”

If you’re not 80% done by the time you’ve used 50% of your resources, you are behind. 80% done means you can ship it right now.

One Week Sprints: What to Ship

Every Monday, each Revelry sprint team holds a kickoff call, during which the project team decides what they are committing to ship by the time Friday rolls around. This allows us to quickly course-correct and ship gold, brick by brick, in the form of functioning software that our clients and their customers can actually put their hands on and use.

It also means a sprint can get away from us without careful planning, prioritizing, and ongoing evaluation, which inspired another new mindset:

If we are not 80% complete on our One Week Sprint by the middle of Wednesday, then we are behind.

While this mindset can certainly prompt fears…anxieties…questions…a lot of “but what if”s, it also encourages us to always remember: There’s a difference between mile markers and trail markers.

Rules, Process, and Blazing a Trail

We talk a lot about #process at Revelry. We use it to drive our product development efforts. This can translate into, “We have a lot of rules.”

We also talk a lot about playing jazz. We know how to bend, not break. We’ve learned how to dance with one another…how to make art. Because we know the rules – because we’re firmly rooted in our process – we know when we can pause for half a beat. Or slide up a half note.

What’s this have to do with the 80/50 rule?

Well, it’s this: 80/50 can be one of our trail markers. A guide post. It’s not an absolute. It’s not a literal, “you are at mile marker 39 and heading to 50; that’s 78%, which means you’re not there.”

But it is going to tell us a hell of a lot.

A Typical Week Using One-Week Lean Agile Sprints

So, a typical week looks like this: Monday we set a commitment for the week and get started. By Thursday our commitment should be well on its way through the QA process. And on Friday, we should be fixing final bugs and maybe even starting new work from the backlog. Every day, the team makes sure they comment on a ticket within two hours of starting it and leave comments (like breadcrumbs) as they proceed.

Our Product Managers have a bird’s-eye view of this whole forest. As team members pick up their tickets and call out their trails (calling their shots), PMs give direction…advising on whether that trail is washed out, and reminding everyone not to shortcut the switchbacks.

This is how we keep track of the landmarks that tell us we’re still on the right trail. It’s not always a straight line, but the journey is beautiful.

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