Endurance monsters, combo runners, speedsters – which kind of runner are you? In the world of distance running, marathoners fall squarely into the first category (“the more miles we log on a weekly basis, the better” is their mantra). As a general rule, most runners are able to adjust between long and short distances, which makes them combo runners. Speedsters, though, are a rare breed. They’re the true champions of the short game. With quick bursts of speed, they easily leave everyone in the dust in races of 5K or less.
It’s tempting for teams to go after the big end result in a project like a marathoner, but a better strategy is inspired by the speedsters. Focus less on the overall goal and instead, focus on shorter bursts, or iterations. Work on a task that you can complete within a short period (ideally 2 weeks) at a time. If you do, you’ll get the best result and learn from your efforts, all the while making adjustments between each iteration.
This approach can help a team overcome their intimidation with the project’s overall goals. Instead of worrying, “how are we going to get there?” this will allow them to break up the project into shorter tasks that provide a trustworthy roadmap for the work ahead.
The shorter the task, the more accurate the estimates of effort will be — and the more achievable the expected result. Shorter sprints also translate into other advantages: 1) a lower cost of failure 2) more immediate data and useful feedback.
- Break up projects into shorter iterations
- Focus on the current iteration only; progress is built one task at a time
- Use regular communications to keep the team focused on immediate tasks
- Involve hands-on stakeholders in the testing, feedback and planning for the next iteration