Focus and Variety

BlurCoaster by Kjudy

We have seven developers growing to eight. The team is funded from two P&L’s so from the outside we’re considered two teams. We work on two projects at a time, one from each P&L.

We used to run one backlog with developers pulling stories from either project. In the sweet spot where both projects ran smoothly this was great. But that proved short-lived. Churn in one project slowed the other and context switching took a toll on the team.

So we split the work into two backlogs. Everyone sits in the same room but developers are “assigned” to one project. As a side note, I actually planned on having two rooms but the team said “no”.

This change has created more focus. Developers know what they’re working on, churn in one project has less effect on the other. The Scrum is easier to run, plan and track and progress appears more regular.

The change is a qualified success. Four may be too small for sustainable pairing. If anyone goes on vacation or is sick, the pairing practice starts to break altogether.

So to retain the focus of two small teams but gain the benefits one slightly larger one, we’ve loosened the assignments. Developers are asked to work on a specific project but they can switch if they feel the hate. The leads can switch people as well.

Management is often about embracing contradiction. We need to find our way to both variety and focus. It’s all a work in progress.

This entry was posted in scrum and tagged by Ken Judy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ken Judy

I am an executive manager, software developer, father and husband trying to do more good than harm. I am an agile practitioner. I say this fully aware I say nothing. Sold as a tool to solve problems, agile is more a set of principles that encourage us to confront problems. Broad adoption of the jargon has not resulted in wide embrace of these principles. I strive to create material and human good by respecting co-workers, telling truth to employers, improving my skills, and caring for the people affected by the software I help build.

One thought on “Focus and Variety

  1. I love the separation 🙂 I wanted to do it for a while, but I didn’t realize until we split how much I missed stability and focus.

    I think 4 is an excellent number for pairing. There are 6 different pairing combinations, which brings diversity, but enough routine that every pair can become consistent in the effort they create and design styles.

Comments are closed.