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Presentation: Extremely Short Iterations as a Catalyst for Effective Prioritization of Work


 In this presentation filmed during Agile 2008, Mishkin Berteig presents a situation where he proposed to a software development team, which just started to experiment with Scrum, to accept 2-days iterations. The approach was trying to tackle their organizational lack of prioritization resulting in constant crisis. Their decision led to a bigger crisis which exposed the need for task prioritization.

Watch: Extremely Short Iterations as a Catalyst for Effective Prioritization of Work (26 min.)

Mishkin had the chance to work with a software development team which suffered from constant interruptions. The company had several product owners which would ask the team to solve some issue right away. It was a constant shift from project to project, never being able to have some real progress with any one project, and the stake holders were growing unhappy.

Mishkin proposed a very short iteration cycle: 2 days. They decided to stay on one project for at least two days after they started working on it. This brought a little bit of order in what they did, but it was still very stressful for the team to commit for such a short period of time.

When one of the product owners wanted to interrupt the team again, they did not accept it, and that led to a crisis, and a VP of the company had to intervene. The VP, mostly unaware of what was going on with the team, their suffering from constant interruptions and their decision to have a 2 days iteration, finally found out what was going on, and stepped in deciding what was actually important to be done for the company. It turned out that most of the projects could wait for a few months, and one particular project needed immediate attention. The team could return to 2-weeks iterations. Problem solved.

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Community comments

  • Shorter iterations are a good thing...

    by Kevin E. Schlabach,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    I don't believe shortening iterations is a goal to pursue in the name of agility, but I do believe that shortening iterations forces you to solve problems that in turn makes you more agile.

    It's complete coincidence, but I wrote a post on my blog about shorter iterations hours before this article was published.

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