We run one week sprints at Revelry. Yep, you read that right. ONE. WEEK. And I recently had an epiphany about how these sprints are a lot like blazing a trail. Let me tell you why.
Robert, our VP of Engineering, shared an article titled “Introductory bullshit detection for non-technical managers” to our PM team Slack channel. Thomas, our COO, chimed in with some top takeaways, among them this: “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 Sprint team holds a kickoff call. 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 the Sprint could get away from us without careful planning, prioritizing, and ongoing evaluation. So during a recent PM team chat, the 80/50 rule came up and we walked away with a new mindset:
If we are not 80% complete on our One Week Sprint by the middle of Wednesday, then we are behind.
This immediately prompted fears. Anxieties. Questions. A lot of “but what if”s.
This led me to utter, “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 Agile One Week Sprints
So, a typical week will look 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 2 hours of starting it and leave comments (like breadcrumbs) as they proceed.
As a Product Owner and Producer, I 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), I can give direction. I’ll advise on whether that trail is washed out, and remind 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.