Why is Agile so obsessed with time when many things are flexible and negotiable with the Product Owner?

One of the key values of Agile approaches is to deliver value incrementally and continually.

While the value delivered has to be incrementally usable, it is also equally important to be making releases at a regular pace.

Sprints create incrementally usable versions of the solution, the releases ensure that the functionality is usable from the Product owner’s perspective. In order to ensure consistent, high productivity, focus is critical. The team should not be disturbed mid-sprint with unplanned activities or requirements.

When this happens, the team might lose focus and the context switching will have an impact on the output in that sprint. The rhythm of activities and deliverables instill confidence in the product owner.

Adherence to timelines must be respected in all activities. All meetings, not only the daily stand up, must be time boxed. This will also let every individual better plan one’s own time. Whether it is starting or ending calls on time or scheduling meetings based on everybody’s availability. Initially, if you are not able to start on time, make sure you end the meetings at the planned end time.

Slowly, as everyone appreciates the importance of sticking to time, the preparedness of participants in meetings will also go up. That will help in reducing distractions and converge on solutions faster.

Working with the time available also helps the team stay focused on the actions needed to ensure that the cumulative value being created every day keeps increasing

Some of the indicators of teams having challenges with time are:

  • User stories being carried forward from one sprint to another, after discovering that they cannot be completed, quite late in the sprint
  • Grooming sessions taking multiple days for most user stories
  • Not including all the efforts needed to complete a user story, such as UX, testing, documentation etc

Time discipline is one of the key disciplines for success of team and organizational agility.

What do you think?

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