No, I am not a terrorist. Before I end up on Homeland Security’s No Fly list, let me explain. The term, “blowing up an iteration” is a term often used to describe the process of abruptly ending an iteration because the goals of the iteration can’t be met. Blowing up an iteration is not the most enjoyable thing to do. So why do it? Why not just extend the date?
In my experience, extending an iteration leads to the possibility of extending future iterations. Agile iterations should be time boxed with fixed resources and a flexible scope.
The decision to blow up a sprint should not be taken lightly. Regardless of the reason, an immature team will question whether this Agile stuff is working. After all, the odds on having a deployable package is not good. A more experienced Agile team will be concerned, but will recover more quickly than an immature Agile team.
Once you make the the decision to blow up the sprint, you should do these five steps:
- Ensure that all the work product is packaged in a way that it can be moved into another iteration. A main underpinning about Agile is to deliver value early and often. Capture the value to date, so that the value is delayed. Not lost.
- Continue with your Agile ceremonies, such as a review and retrospective. The iteration got blown up, so there has to be something that could be improved on. More important is to talk about what went well. Many times, the condition that prompted the decision was outside of the control of the team itself. In fact, the team may have been working well together. Focusing on the positive can help reduce some of the frustration caused by not reaching the objective of the iteration.
- Ensure that your product backlog is ready to go. A product backlog that has not been groomed is a recipe for disaster. Constant grooming is required. Getting the team moving on the next sprint is critical.
- Start the next sprint in the same fashion you do every other one: Sprint Planning. The work unfinished from the last sprint should go into the product backlog and be re-prioritized with the rest of the work. The priorities may have changed. The goal for the new iteration may be different than the terminated iteration. Ensure that you define the goal, and that you re-define done.
- As a Scrum master, it is imperative you remain positive. The team will take it’s lead from you.
Thanks for coming in today.