Agile Experimentation

I am a big proponent of experimentation and find it particularly useful within the Agile space. When teams are working in short time boxes, a quick experiment could add a lot of value. On the downside, if it doesn’t add value, the team can choose to end the experiment and hopefully they have learned something. With an eye toward continuous improvement, perhaps the team wants to try another.

Below are a couple of experiments that teams I’ve been coaching have tried.

Experiment #1

During a retrospective, I brought up the topic of communication. How was communication within the team? Did they think it was strong? Were they all on the same page and did they know what each other was doing? Most people said it was very strong. One person said that they knew what everyone was doing and another said they would like to know what everyone was doing but they weren’t quite there yet.

I took this opportunity to suggest a communication experiment. How would the team like to give their daily scrum update for another person on the team? For various reasons, everyone thought it would be a fun experiment, so we decided to try it for a week.

The exercise started out pretty well, actually. Around day #2, things started to become a bit more challenging and by the end of the week, the team was ready to end the experiment. The team realized that although they had good communication, there was still room for improvement.

Experiment #2

Another team had recently been broken up and was reforming. They were clearly in the “storming” phase and were having problems with their throughput. In a retrospective, we focused solely on what could be done to increase throughput and start seeing work flow across the board. A member of the team had the idea to start using a daily team goal.

The plan would be that during the daily scrum, the team would identify the top priority for the day, how much of that the team could finish and who would help get it done. The plan is similar to the typical daily scrum, but much more focused on the team rather than the individuals.

The daily team goal helped the team focus, increased their collaboration and led to a lot of swarming. The experiment received positive reviews in and out of the team and is still being used today.

I viewed both of these experiments as positive. Even though they had differing levels of success, it felt good to try something new and I believe that the teams learned something from both.

What kind of experiments have you tried?

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