Transition to agile: pre-sprint planning

So, I’ve spent my last days sending out calendar holds, mini 1-on-1s, and completing rough documents that begin scope out the vision and “really big” stories for the project. Since we are approaching the holiday season most of the next weeks will be spent planning and setting up a workspace so we are ready for Sprint 1.

Digital handwriting w/ iPencil

My digital writing is no more legible than pen and paper. 😉

The planning call today covered some basics that we’ll need in this project. As previously stated we won’t run this as a traditional software development sprint, but rather apply agile to an innovation product management sprint, with a cross-function team of 4 core members. I’ve created the checklist below that should help you get things running if you’re new to this process.

  • Define each work streams and verify an owner of eacH – Ours are defined as technology/design, content development and production, business, and marketing
  • Setup pep-talks with the owners, mini 1-on-1s
  • Define a commitment goal for the core group – We won’t be looking this group in a rooo for 2 week sprints so we agreed that a commitment for 35-40% of each persons total time will be our sweet spot. (There is no sweet spot in agile. The goal is for the team to be motivated and be able to deliver in short chunks.)
  • Set a start date and an end date for the first release – we’ve pick a national event in March where key influencers will be. Goal is to create awareness for the pilot project and have influencers recommend it to our target users.
  • Setup baseline configuration – we will be use JIRA
  • Import rough (really big)  stories to start building a backlog, pick a few that may be relevant for the first sprint and analyze these to ensure we have what is needed to put them into the first sprint – budgets, specification, business support, etc
  • Decide how to size stories – points or hours – being a cross-functional team with non-software expertise we’ve chosen to use hours rather than story points.

I hope this helps give some guidance with the pre-sprint planning process. I’m not brand new to agile, but adopting it as a new innovation tool for managing this project introduces some new challenage and hurdles. Feel free to ask me any questions along the way and follow me to stay updated.

So I’ll leave you with two last points that may help you until the next post:

  1. Always just focus on the current sprint – the next two weeks.
  2. Create stories that can be completed to help the team perform at their best.

you may want to read the previous post A Transition to Agile

Agile Leadership: Trust vs. Control – Scrum Inc

I came across this simple visual example of a complex adaptive system, a scrum, on Scrum Inc’s blog and wanted to share it you. Follow the link at the bottom to read the whole post.

Exerpt: I Listened to Spotify enterprise coach and Agile thought leader Henrik Knieberg’s keynote and loved his analogy on Trust vs. Control. He uses the concept of traffic regulation, specifically a traffic circle vs. an intersection controlled by a stop light.

Trust leads to control. It doesn’t work the other way, controlling behavior results in a lack of trust and trust is the essence of Agile leadership.

Source: Agile Leadership: Trust vs. Control – Scrum Inc

A Transition to Agile

Over the next several posts I will begin to write about the transition to agile, written from the guiding position of a “scrum master”. Since this group is not strictly a team of only software developers and the project is not strictly setting out with a goal to write software, the posts will be about the process of how the team is modifying agile to fit the a product development circumstance

Jack be agile


To align with sprint iterations planned in a span of 2 weeks the blog posts will keep to a pattern of release/iteration planning and demo/acceptance criteria/retrospective. I hope to share insights and best practices that have been discovered during this process so they can be applied to your own agile product management projects.

“At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.” – Principles behind the Agile Manifesto

And naturally this post about Agile would not be complete without a reference to the original  The Agile Manifesto.  

Some Agile reading available here:

Online Agile learning resources here: – free resource that explains the basic framework, roles and key patterns of Scrum – Jeff Sutherland, the inventor of Scrum, is a charter member of the Scrum Patterns group. He is the author of most of  these Scrum PLoP® patterns — patterns he teaches to get teams off to a good start, and to get great teams to a hyperproductive state  – CA Technologies Agile Central has a lot of great articles and tools for agile teams.

Gifts for the product manager/owner

Planning Poker Cards – Mountain Goat Software offers Planning Poker® cards for your use in estimating.

Mountain Goat Software offers Planning Poker® cards

Mountain Goat Software offers Planning Poker® cards