How to use the Innovation Sprint to deliver better products

11 Ideas for Innovation Sprint of Scaled Agile Framework

Wondering how to make the best usage of your Innovation Sprint? Learn 11 ideas that are proven to work in real life.

The last sprint of the Program Increment is the Innovation and Planning Sprint. Most of the clients I work with they love SAFe because of the structure it brings in place to the entire organization. One of the challenges I see among the organizations I work with is to use the last sprint as an innovation sprint. It is indeed a hard sell.

Innovation and Planning Sprint from SAFe

1. System Demo.

It is the moment to show off in front of your clients without the risk of getting them bored. Because it’s been +50 people working on an Agile Release Train during at least two months, there must be some fantastic functionalities your clients can go ahead and use. They’ll be excited to see them in action and to get their hands on it. The Innovation and Planning Sprint aims to allow the team to prepare for this moment.

2. Set PI Objectives

The Innovation and Planning Sprint ends with the PI Planning Meeting. What do you need for the next Program Increment Planning Meeting? You need to be prepared for the next Program Increment for the team to be able to estimate work, identify impediments, and to commit to the following PI objectives. What do you need for it?

Below a list of 11 ideas of how to use Innovation and Planning Sprint to build a competitive advantage for your product:

  1. Design thinking — test the functionalities you plan to implement before you implement it. It is by far something every company must focus on. You have a wide choice between spikes, design sprints, prototypes, user feedback sessions, explore new ideas, research. It all depends on the magnitude of your challenges and budget. Here you can learn more about Design Thinking processes on 31 Design thinking processes for Product Owners;
  2. Finding solutions to technical issues. You can use the time to research and test technical solutions;
  3. Grow competence inside the team: new technologies and multidisciplinary skills are the most common;
  4. Product Backlog Refinement for the next Program Increment. You can learn 13 alternatives to the Product backlog refinement meeting;
  5. Prepare for the System demo;
  6. Fine-tune features implemented during the ongoing Program Increment;
  7. Go Live activities if the case;
  8. Refactoring;
  9. Work together with other teams to improve the collaboration between teams;
  10. Team building. The most united is a team; the more powerful it is;
  11. Finish work. It is the last on the list because doing the work in the planned sprint is a crucial discipline and innovation and planning.

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