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a Kanban fix

A Scrum team found they were doing too much context-switching, so they applied a dash of Kanban. It’s an interesting example of Kanban principles in action.

Using Kanban to Fix a Common Scrum Anti-pattern

We used the term Feature Flow to describe the goal of the team: to let features flow through the team without interruptions. Any feature that is in a state of waiting, or is simply taking more than a few days is analysed. It’s moved to done as quickly as possible by scrambling more team members. When we encounter features getting stuck, we don’t pick up more work, we try to find the root-cause of the stickiness and solve that. We increased the quality and capabilities of our build environment a few times for that very reason: to prevent future blockage in our flow of features.

When we introduced the ‘work-in-progress’ limit, we also temporarily stopped doing planning meetings, as our first target was getting the w.i.p. down to 8. The interesting side effect was, that we were working for a few weeks without the need for a planning session. So we stopped the fixed-date planning session and replaced it with an ad-hoc planning session whenever the ‘sprint-backlog’ was drying up. From our coarsely estimated product backlog our product owner introduced a couple of days worth of features each planning session. The great thing was that the priorities could change at the last moment, as long as the team hadn’t started working on a feature. As the Sprint planning meetings were always quite strenuous, the just-in-time one-hour planning sessions kept the teams energy at a constant.

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