What’s up with One-Week Sprints?
One of the principles of the agile manifesto says, “Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale” and the Scrum guide tells us, “The heart of Scrum is a Sprint, a time-box of one month or less during which a ‘Done’, usable, and potentially releasable product Increment is created.
So you can imagine my surprise when one of the selected topics at an amazing, open-space Agile Coach camp I attended, was covering the benefits of one-week sprints. Um . . . Excuse me?
Let me be clear, I’m not an Agile purist and I consider myself a practical and sensible Agilist. However, I will admit to being skeptical and downright judgmental at the thought of one-week sprints. Fortunately, after chastising myself for having a closed-mind, I attended the session.
The Benefits of 1 Week Sprints
The team that experienced success with one-week sprints said that this timebox forced them to have smaller stories. They used the INVEST model as a part of their Definition of Ready for their stories. The “S” in INVEST stands for stories that are small enough to be completed in one sprint.
The team also shared that a one-week sprint allowed them to get feedback from their stakeholders sooner and, in most cases, contained risks within a one week period. Another benefit for this team was that by ending their sprint each week, they had retrospectives more frequently and could work on continuous improvement items more consistently.
Here are my take-aways:
Before attending this session, I don’t think I would have ever even considered a 1-week sprint. From my years of being an Enterprise Agile Coach and working with a variety of teams, I’ve learned that there is a proper caring and feeding that must happen in order to create empowered, motivated teams that deliver consistently. However, after listening and learning more about it, I think there could be a time and a place to use 1-week sprints.
I believe that a more responsible application of a one-week sprint would be to have it as another arrow in your agile coaching quiver. What I mean by that is the use of one-week sprints should be an option only after careful consideration and under the right circumstances. A lot would depend on where a team is on their agile journey.
Below are 2 situations where a one-week sprint might work: