It's OK to do Waterfall in a Sprint, At First

It's OK.

You've been there: you're on a new team, or a team new to Scrum or Agile, and there are old patterns, and skepticism, and fear, and a flavour of, "But Mom, I'm drinking my milk with this tiny spoon and I'm OK with it - it's fine - I don't want to change - I don't care if we miss the bus - NO!"

Usually after a management mandate, everybody is doing this rugby term, running all out for two weeks at a time, planning out how to do just that on a Wednesday instead of a more intuitive Monday, and stopping to stand together once a morning to justify our existence. Oh, and then we talk about our feelings for an hour at the end of this endless cycle.

After some training, or some experience, and usually both, the above facetious characterization transforms into actually doing work, through this Scrum framework.

By the third retrospective, you get at least one person who is at least no longer an ardent skeptic. This may be due to an individual win. "It's easier to get help on something because we all see what's being worked on." "I see if I"m about to get slammed with testing." This may be due to a perceived team win. "We finally delivered something." "We actually talk about the thing we're working on and catching gotchas before we even start."

Implementing Scrum, or anything Agile, is change management. For the change to stick, it takes time as well as knowing both the culture and context. Every context is different, so your Transformation Backlog should be tailored. What can y'all do to get a win for the team? What can y'all address later?

There is great empowerment from self-organizing, and if that manifests in conducting the Sprint as a mini-waterfall, with there being an Analysis stage, then a Development stage, then a Testing stage, then heck: help them get a win. Help them get something to done. Help them see they can do it their way.

  • Small wins build confidence.