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.
There are 2 points of view on innovation: teams and management. It is that moment when finally the teams will do something cool. But on the other hand, for company management, it is a waste of money with no value added to the business.
The ones who work with me know I have a lean and results-oriented approach to work: minimize waste and be profitable. And so, I see the innovation and planning sprint, which is part of SAFe methodology. Whatever you spend the time in this sprint, it must help you to minimize waste and be profitable, but also to enrich the participants.
What can you do in this sprint? System Demo + Set PI Objectives.
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?
As Product Manager, you need to identify the features you will implement in the next Program Increment. They need to bring the most of the business value with the minimum of effort. But how can you be sure about your prioritization? What about validating the functionalities with the clients before even developing them?
As a scrum team, you need to estimate the work, decide how to implement the work, and to identify the dependencies you might have. What about going deeper into the work understanding and researching how you are going to perform the work? What about learning more about work before estimating?
As an Agile Release Train (ART), you must be able to identify risks and set objectives. The highest risk is always that the users don’t accept the features and the rework. What if you test before you implement it?
The 2nd highest risk is the technical issues the scrum teams might encounter on the way and the collaboration on resolving timely the dependencies between the agile teams. What about finding solutions to those hiccups that make you hesitate when estimating work?
Below a list of 11 ideas of how to use Innovation and Planning Sprint to build a competitive advantage for your product:
- 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;
- Finding solutions to technical issues. You can use the time to research and test technical solutions;
- Grow competence inside the team: new technologies and multidisciplinary skills are the most common;
- Product Backlog Refinement for the next Program Increment. You can learn 13 alternatives to the Product backlog refinement meeting;
- Prepare for the System demo;
- Fine-tune features implemented during the ongoing Program Increment;
- Go Live activities if the case;
- Work together with other teams to improve the collaboration between teams;
- Team building. The most united is a team; the more powerful it is;
- 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.
You might be interested in:
12 Alternatives to Product Backlog Refinement meeting
We all hate meetings. For me, we meet to get something out of it. Here 13 workshops that can replace your PBR.
Nine user story metrics I care about while coaching Scrum teams
Goal: put in numbers the team performance. Numbers talk to everyone. When we see 98% performance there is no…
Hamburger Method to Split User Stories from Dev team perspective
The main reason why I use the Hamburger Method to split user stories is to coach the teams to transit from the…
Remote Feature Mapping Workshop
Feature Mapping is a technique that helps Product Owners, Product Managers, and teams to visualize the big picture of…
How to define Features in Agile Methodology?
In Agile methodologies, the features represent a chunk of functionality that delivers considerable business value.
Remote Value Stream Mapping (VSM) Workshop
Value Stream is the end to end business process from the demand to the delivery. As examples, we have the process since…
Product Owner’s Checklist for Product Backlog Refinement
The PBR is iterative, progressive, and constant: 1. define vision 2. identify features 3. define user stories. How to…
19 Techniques for Continuous Exploration
Exploration means research, try to do things, fail, ask for feedback. Exploration means getting your hands dirty…
The Six Powers of Continuous Exploration
Winning in the digital world means to explore the unknown, live with uncertainty. How do you build predictability when…
How and why the personas must be the starting point of our user stories to build better products
This week I started a new project — CooLab. We need to create an application which helps cooks to reach more people…
10 things you should consider when making software development estimations
I often see clients, managers, product owners in the IT industry asking the software development team or team members…