What are the components of the perfect sprint?

For those working in product teams using sprints as the delivery mechanism you will know that there is a constant ‘healthy’ tension between Product Owners, Delivery Managers, Stakeholders, and Developers to name a few. 

Coming from the developer side I always battled with trying to tackle technical/data debt as well as deliver new features etc.

Now I am lucky enough to be running data teams I am looking to ensure we are focussing on more than shiny new features and here is how.

Step 1: Continuous Improvement

The first tasks in the sprint are to do with continuous improvement, let’s trust our developers to do what is right for the product.  They know the inner workings and what technical/data debt is building up. 

Give them the power and space to fix it, 20% of the sprint seems fair.  If they don’t need it or want to park it to absorb more new features, then more power to them but let them decide.

Step 2: Product Focussed

The second step is for the Product Owner to fill 50% of the sprint with their priorities.

Step 3: Personal Development

The third element of the sprint is Personal Development.  Are we giving people the thinking space needed?  How can we expect our developers to improve and innovate if they are up to their eyeballs in JIRA tickets? 

Finally remember people cannot code every minute of their working day, people need coffee and to answer the phone.  They need to speak with colleagues or hang the washing out.  Time away from the screen is important and people are not machines so take that into account when planning resource.

So I guess that leaves one question … Are these the components of the perfect sprint?

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