Blog / One Week Iterations Rock

Austin Fagan
September 15, 2010

Stuck in a project where every iteration fails to deliver? Where every retrospective is a nightmare? Where every show and tell is a verbal cat o’ nine tails session? Where you’re a gibbering wreck yearning for a stronger prescription? Well then I have the very solution for you, step right up ladies and gen-teel-men. I present to you:

The One Week Iteration!!

Right about now all the hope I’ve built up is draining away fast and the thought of even more retrospectives, more show and tells and more disappointment are weighing heavy upon your broken soul. Whether your project is in trouble, not expected to take long or you’ve assembled a new team, shortening the iteration length can be very useful.

There will be more retrospectives so any issues with the process can be addressed and discussed and any improvements implemented on a more regular basis than a two week iteration would allow. If the team is not experienced in agile then increasing the number of retrospectives will certainly help them over the learning curve.

Smaller iterations will have more planning games. The team will have more practice at estimating and will get better at it. As the iteration length is shorter larger stories would need to be broken down. For example a twenty point story that could potentially take several days to finish would be doable in a two week iteration but in a  one week iteration it would be too risky to commit to a story of this size. Once the notion of an epic changes its unlikely to change even if the team are working on two week iterations in a later project. This is a really, really good thing!

In a two week iteration the team will need to plan further ahead than a one week iteration. The shorter the period you’re planning for the more accurate the estimates will be.

As the customer gets to see the iteration output more often this will allow for more feedback and allow any required changes to be fed into the next planning session.

One week iterations are not without their potential pitfalls however. The effect of unplanned absences through sick leave will be a bigger risk to the iteration commitment not being met. It is also important to ensure that planning games, retrospectives and show and tells are shortened relative to the iteration length.

Go on, do it, you know you want to!!