We’re going to plan everything you believe you can complete (not just kick off, but actually complete) in the next two week Sprint. This means that anyone who will be working on the tasks listed in the TO DO column on the System Planner should be right here with you so that you can help each other work out which tasks you can get through. You still have your other work tasks to do as well, so be realistic.
STARTING POINT: All your tasks to be completed are listed in the TO DO column on your Systems Planner
END POINT: Tasks to be completed in this Sprint have been assessed and moved across to the DOING column on your Systems Planner
But before you start shuffling those stickies from TO DOacross to the DOING column, THINK. The ‘doing’ that we’re talking about means that for each task you add to the DOING column, you commit to actually complete it within the Sprint period – usually two weeks. 100% DONE. This means you need to think about:
your standard workload;
other projects or non-standard tasks you’ve committed to;
availability of resources needed to complete the task, such as other people’s time;
any preparatory tasks for the tasks you hope to complete; and, most importantly,
your company Style Guide (covering use of logos, standard colours, fonts, standard page layouts, tag lines, etc)
Get the Foundations Right
Let’s look at those last two points from the list above.
Say one of your tasks is to complete a checklist. Ideally the checklist would use exactly the same branding and layout as all your other checklists. So before you commit to completing this checklist, you might need to create or update a checklist template to match your company Style Guide. Don’t have a company Style Guide? You may need to create the Style Guide…
Is the style and layout important? Certainly, if all your checklists, forms and document templates share a standard layout, with the same fonts, copyright notice and logos, they will generally look more professional. More importantly, they will be easier to use because everyone will be familiar with them. Even for first-time users, this familiarity will almost certainly lead to faster comprehension and lower error rates.
So, if you don’t already have some standards or guidelines in place, why not schedule a short session for your team so that you can explain your Style Guide or at least set some basic standards. Short, sharp and to the point, noting file locations for logos, colour charts, etc.
So, for every task you move into the DOING column, consider whether you should instead be adding a preparatory task first. The final product must comply with your company standards and styles.
It’s time for action, time to Plan the Sprint.
Select a task that you believe you can complete within the next two weeks.
Confirm your understanding of the task requirements.
Move the sticky note for this task into the DOING column. Mark the task so that it is clear that it is your task (use a highlighter, write your initials, etc).
Review all the tasks you’ve committed to for this Sprint.
If you believe that you can commit to another task for this sprint, repeat from Step 1 above.
So now, with your tasks finalised for this sprint:
Review the list with your colleagues.
Do they also believe you’ll be able to get it done with the two weeks?
Should you remove anything?
OK. That’s it then. Sign it off your Sprint List – maybe take a photo of your stickies so that you can’t forget what you committed to achieving.
Final step. Add the Sprint Start and Sprint End dates into your calendar and schedule in a daily Heads Up meeting (No more than 3 minutes per person).
More detail on the Daily Heads Up is coming in the next blog
Now, finished your plan?
Steps 2 and 3 of the modified SCRUM model
Select only those tasks which can definitely be completed within the Sprint (usually 14 days)
Biting off more than you can chew?
Good question. Everyone wants to get going with the tasks listed on your Systems Planner. The danger lies in adding too many tasks and then not completing them. Or worse still, completing them but compromising on the outcome.
This can be very demotivating so take care to select tasks carefully. You’ve probably heard the expression, “Bite off more than you can chew, then chew like crazy.” This may not be the best advice here.
In the next blog in this series, you’ll see how to manage the Sprint itself, including the important Daily Heads Up meetings.