Rightly or wrongly, I felt that the first focus of my new tech lead position was to work on delivery throughput. I was working with a group of developers I didn’t really know, and didn’t know me. There were also concerns the group was too small to be effective. I decided the best way to develop the trust we need to be effective was to work together to build a fast delivery process. If we could document this progress and reflect back on it, we’d have built trust both in the process but also the people… we’d know we have a group of people that could work effectively together.
The team I’d picked up were using Scrum but we didn’t have any information about velocity since the team was newly formed. What we did have was a really well defined short-term backlog. This put us in a great position of having enough work to build foundations of a development process, without dictating everything we were going to be doing for the next 3 years. There was just enough for the team to bed in. For the first 6 weeks then, we ran Scrum.
I don’t want to get into a holy war about delivery frameworks, but from a personal perspective I find Kanban suits me more. I’ve worked with Scrum frameworks and modified them again and again to suit, but I find that at their heart Scrum is about creating a rhythm for developers to work to. Kanban values delivery over everything else. Given that I’m not a very good dancer, rhythm isn’t really of interest to me. I’d much rather focus on getting the current thing off the board so I can do more exciting things (the grass is always greener right!?!).
And so, after six weeks of Scrum, we moved to Kanban. The process was largely painless. There was no pressure to produce detailed progress reports for management which helped massively. In the end, it simply boiled down to removing the fortnightly ceremonies… namely the Sprint Planning and Sprint Closure meetings. For a team with a well defined backlog I don’t see the value of Sprint Planning: just keep the tickets rolling! We kept a fortnightly retrospective as it’s vital for any team to reflect on their process and refine it. It doesn’t matter if they’re following Kanban or Scrum… or if they’re a Premier League football team! Getting together periodically to work out what you do well and what could be better is critical - whether a team is brand new or has been working together for years.