How to Identify a Failed Sprint–3 Things to Watch Out For

Eugene LaiThu, 10/10/2019 - 13:55

If you have been practicing or studying Agile and Scrum concepts, you probably have come across the term “fail fast”, which means that there’s benefit in deploying a small set of functioning system to test the product/solution against the original assumptions. However, how do we know if a team is simply “failing fast” or actually failing (and not improving)? Here are a few things that may help you determine which situation your team might be dealing with.

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Consideration #1 – Is the team making an effort to improve?

New teams need time to learn a lot of different things – how to work together, how to plan and execute work within a new paradigm, how to use a new tool…the list goes on; it’s a lot to digest. We should not expect the team to be able to master the art of working in an “Agile” way immediately, but we should be able to tell if the team is adapting. Are they making the same mistakes repeatedly, or are they making new ones after trying something different?

Consideration #2 – How close did the team come to meeting the Sprint Goal?

One of the key measures of success is the Sprint Goal, specifically, how did the team do against this objective? If the team came very close, then it is on its way. On the other hand, if the goal was far from being achievable, even after multiple Sprints, then there’s likely a larger issue at hand.

Consideration #3 – How “happy” is the team?

Quite often, teams forget to have fun! Teams also forget to think about how much enjoyment they are getting from the work that they are doing. Sometimes a great way to measure growth and development of a team is to find out how they feel about the way things are going. It may seem a bit strange to look at things in this manner, but studies have shown that happier people do better work. If the team is happy, it’s a positive sign that the team is learning and growing together, which can be a good measure of success for the Sprint, even if the deliverables do not seem to echo this sentiment.

As you may see, there are many ways to evaluate the success of a Sprint. Depending on the level of maturity of the team and how long the team members have worked together, you may need to incrementally adjust how you perceive “success” for an Agile team.