Scaling agile – Planning large scale agile – Stages

Many people believe that using agile means not doing planning. baloney.  Why the heck do you think Mike Cohn wrote “Agile PLANNING and estimating.”   The difference is that on an agile project planning happens in different ways, in pragmatic ways, in progressive stages of greater and greater planning.

So how do you do it?

Planning in Agile comes in Ranges and Stages.  Last time I talked about the Ranges . Now let’s talk about Stages.


Much as people don’t want to believe it about agile projects. All sprints are NOT created equal. (Aaah Shocking!)

Peeling an Onion

What are the stages?  I have found that there are 3 distinct stages or types of sprints.

  1. The First Sprint
  2. The Sprints up to the first Release
  3. The Performing Sprints

If you have studied teamwork effectiveness you are probably familiar with the Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing stages of team development.  These map easily to the stages of the first few sprints. If they have never worked together they will spend the first few sprints forming and storming.  Please don’t expect them to be running optimally. They are no where near being able to do that.

For your first sprint you are completely building the product from scratch.  Which is uniquely difficult. Help your team focus on delivery of a SMALL increment of real potentially deliverable product.

Additionally, the First few sprints are different from all the rest because everything else is new too. The team is new, the product is new, the leadership is new, and often the technology is new.   There are so many new things in the first few sprints that it often feels like a lot of thrash.  This is normal and to be expected.  You can expect the first few sprints to be difficult with the team forming and storming eventually norming…probably after your first release.

By | 2016-10-25T16:20:20+00:00 June 9th, 2010|agile, People, project management, Scaling Agile, teams|2 Comments

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  1. PM Hut June 15, 2010 at 9:56 am - Reply

    Hi Joseph,

    Actually when I first read the title I thought you were going to discuss how Agile can be applied to large projects, which, in my opinion, is a very interesting subject, as most people believe that Agile does not scale well. I’ve actually published an excellent article on Agile Limitations, you might want to take a look…

  2. josephflahiff June 15, 2010 at 11:09 am - Reply

    This is part of a series of blog posts on scaling agile. planning large scale releases is part of that scaling. I listed the series of topics here

    I am currently managing a large scrum based project. To me Large = $20Million+ Budget, 100+ team members, 2.5+ years. Really I should call it “Scaling Agile from the Trenches”.

    On top of being large, it is also a federally mandated requirement to finish by January 1, 2012 and the penalties are in the millions of dollars for not being in compliance. As Gene Kratz would say “Failure is not an option”.

    I am reading your article now…

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