Monday, December 08, 2008


In American football, the game is divided into four 15-minute quarters. There's a short break between the first/second quarters and then between the third/fourth quarters, but the middle transition is longer. It's called halftime.

During halftime, teams return to their locker rooms for respite, but more importantly, coaches use it as an opportunity to adjust the game plan and motivate the team.

Much is made of the halftime break in football. I think the concept is equally useful in ... agile software development.

I introduced halftime on a couple of agile software development teams to step back and look at iteration (or sprint) goals at the midpoint of the iteration, to see where we stand, and adjust our approach. It has been a good opportunity to refocus, adjust sprint content, and address issues.

In a recent halftime, I pointed out that the scope for the iteration was 63, and that we had burned up 20 points. I used the analogy that our opponents had 63 points and we had 20 and that we need to figure out how to make up the difference. We adjusted our approach, removed some scope and went on.

If you're stuck in a project where the iterations are too long (e.g. four weeks), suggest introducing a short halftime (30 minutes) to refocus the team and adjust. Even if you're in 2-week sprints, doing a checkpoint/halftime at mid-iteration can be useful. It's also a good segue into shorter iterations.

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