Since my overall team changed divisions last fall and my feature team took on a new area , it’s been a struggle to get into much of a development rhythm.  The different feature teams working in Fargo were all at a different place in their learning curve and development progress.  We were out of sync.

We finally got back in sync a couple of months ago.  About a week and a half ago, we had our 2nd consecutive monthly sprint review for our team as part of the current milestone.  As we’ve done in the past, we held a set of afternoon review sessions for different feature teams followed by the always important DrinkUp.  The rhythm was starting – planning, execution, review, retrospective, and back to planning.  Burndown charts were posted and progress was shown at the sprint reviews.  It was good.

If I would have gotten around to writing this post a week and a half ago when I wanted to, I would have stopped at the previous paragraph.  Unfortunately, I’m not feeling quite as confident of our rhythm now. 

Our milestone plan was to have two 4 week sprints followed by a 2 week sprint at the end.  We’re in the 2 week sprint now and I feel out of the rhythm.  We are not planning a sprint review because teams are either winding down or just weren’t able to get much done in the short sprint.  I feel like we just got done planning and we need to turn it around to do it again.  The heartbeat of the project has changed and now we need to do things differently.

The idea of having a regular heartbeat, or rhythm, for a project is a hard thing to explain to someone not used to iterative development.  But I think it’s a really valuable aspect of Scrum and other iterative approaches.  The short, reliable turnaround times enable you to reflect and get better over time.  Making and showing progress over and over again is a very powerful motivator.  Management and customers start to have confidence that you can make good commitments and keep them.

Does your project have a rhythm?  If not, my recommendation is to find one and stick with it.