Likely Story

Breaking Rules and Breaking Moulds with Flexible Sprints

"My mind is always free. My mind is flexible." ― Eliud Kipchoge

Sprint cycles are a critical component of the product development process. They provide a structured framework for teams to plan, execute, and review their work, and they help ensure that projects stay on track and on schedule. However, traditional sprint cycles can be inflexible and rigid, and the more experience I accumulate working with different product teams the more I've come to realise that they may not always be the best fit for every team and every project, and more importantly, every goal.

Breaking the Mundane...

Traditional sprint cycles are designed to be predictable and repeatable. They typically involve a set period of time, such as two weeks, during which the team focuses on a specific set of tasks and objectives. At the end of the sprint, the team reviews their progress and identifies any issues or challenges. While this approach has its advantages, it can also be limiting. One of the main problems with traditional sprint cycles is that they can be inflexible. Teams may find themselves unable to respond to changing priorities or unexpected events, and they may be forced to push back deadlines or compromise on the scope of their work. This can lead to frustration and dissatisfaction among team members, and it can ultimately impact the quality and success of the product.

Another issue with traditional sprint cycles is that they can foster a culture of rigidity and conformity. Teams may feel pressure to conform to the established sprint cycle, even if it doesn't align with their needs or preferences. This can lead to a lack of innovation and creativity, and it can stifle the team's ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

Enter: Flexible Sprint Cycles

Maintaining flexible sprint cycles has been something I've been experimenting with the teams I work with over the past quarter or so and they offer a great solution to some of the limitations of traditional sprint cycles. They allow teams to adapt to changing circumstances, adjust their plans and priorities based on real-time feedback and data, and they can respond to unexpected events or challenges without disrupting the entire sprint cycle. This can help teams stay focused and aligned, and it can prevent the kind of scope creep and missed deadlines that can plague traditional sprint cycles.

Another great benefit of flexible sprint cycles is the potential to improve team morale and collaboration. When teams are able to tailor their sprint cycles to their specific needs and preferences, they are more likely to feel engaged and invested in their work. This can foster a culture of creativity and innovation, and coupled with inspiring sprint reviews and frank and open sprint retro's, it can encourage teams to work together more effectively and efficiently.

Avoid a false start out of the blocks

Flexible sprint cycles have worked well for the teams I work with so far, and based on my experience (which is totally still on-going!) there are a few key things to keep in mind.

  • Create clear goals. Before you start implementing flexible sprint cycles, it's important to have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve, which for me comes in the form of a solid initiative brief, and even more granular, a comprehensive sprint goal.

  • Communication is key. Flexible sprint cycles rely on strong communication and collaboration among team members. Make sure to involve your team in the decision-making process, and encourage them to share their ideas and feedback.

  • Be agile! Flexible sprint cycles can be challenging to implement, and they may not always be the right fit for every team and every project. Be prepared for potential setbacks and challenges, and be willing to adapt and adjust your approach as needed.


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