Sprint, scrum, getting things done

Published in Networking the change on 4 Oct 2023

I’m writing this with a cup of tea next to me, thinking about colleagues in North Ayrshire who are working with us this year through our Foundations for Change programme. I’m sitting here at my desk tapping away at the keyboard while they are getting active - forming scrums and starting sprints!  

We’ve done thorough preparation work to get to this point - if the sports metaphor works for you - then you could think of the Explore and Imagine stages of the Iriss innovation model as the things you do get ready for a sporting event - checking out the conditions and being clear about what you want to achieve -  what’s the ground like underfoot? Who are the people on the team, is everyone here or is anyone missing? Do we all have our eyes on the same prize? What does that prize look like?  

Over the last few months we’ve been together in workshops to do this and it’s been brilliant to facilitate spaces where people are learning from and about each other and developing a set of shared priorities and practical ideas to innovate social care and support in the area. It’s important not to underestimate the value of the time and energy given to these development stages by colleagues who know their area inside out and are ready and up for making things happen.  

We’re moving on now - we have two scrums ready to sprint! Here at Iriss we love to paint a picture that brings our work to life - but hold that thought about a bunch of rugby players hurtling down an athletics track.  We’ve incorporated some Agile project management techniques to support our changemakers. So we have two small groups (each group is a scrum) comprising people from different provider organisations, services and internal HSCP teams, who will be working collectively on tasks to make progress on two specific ideas for change over a short period of time (a sprint). 

The great thing about scrums and sprints is that they’re based on reality and openness -  scrum members are honest about how much capacity they have to take on a task, they self organise and get together for short regular update meetings to reflect and review as they go. Sprints are time limited (in this case six weeks) - long enough to do things, short enough to avoid the trap of mission drift. Tasks that are too big are broken into smaller tasks and if it’s really big then it might become a separate sprint. At the end of each sprint the group reflects on progress and priorities in readiness to sprint again if need be.

We’re learning as we go, and we’ll see where we get to! 

If you’re wondering what the image has to do with all these sports references - it’s a niche reference to creating an Agile backlog (tasks) list.

close up of many post it notes stuck on a wall with a person writing on one of them with a pen