As the end of the Sprint is approaching, usually in the last few hours before demo or even after, some team member decides to rush activities. What for the whole Sprint (1-4 weeks) and surely till “yesterday” wasn’t possible to complete in 1-2 days, suddenly can be finished in few hours, or it must absolutely be finished before Scrum Master closes the sprint!
Often there is a wrong perception of time and reality and despite team agrees on a clear definition of done, you may hear something like “this is almost done”, “this is basically done”, “this is finished, only waiting for approval”, “we can demo this and deploy it later”. This is a kind of cheating mindset is more dangerous for teams than for organisations.
You can easily recognize the cheating mindset from burn down charts. If most of the Story Points are burned in the last day of the Sprint, (whether or not after long flat lines), there it is. Someone call it the “Hurry Up” burn-down. Someone else the “predictable last-minute Bonanza”. It synthesises any (or all) of the following habits: no Work In Progress limit, no work split in small batches, long living branches, no continuous integration, big stories, no proper work refinement or story understanding, low code maintainability, high rework rate, deployment pain, no swarming, high context switching, no focus.
These and even stranger things can happen in the oblivion of this hidden dark upside down cold world called end of sprint. The deployment and delivery pain that your team is nurturing can turn out into a dangerous demo-gorgon.
What will happen on the day that the team will be asked to showcase what they have just released in production rather than delivering a demo? Would they find themselves in a new situation (stress)? Would they show something different, mocking things, hiding gaps, fearing to be discovered or blamed (stress)? Would they make extra work the night(s) or morning before (stress)? Are teammates digging each others’ path to burn-out?
Unfortunately burnout can be a real monster that can make things we once loved about our work and life seem insignificant and dull with huge consequences for individuals, teams and organisations.
The good news is that there are many things we can do to minimise risk of burnout, reduce deployment pain, create safer environments, perform better and delivering continuously throughout the sprint. Any sprint.
In my next article, I will talk about some ideas that can be used to minimise these risks. Stay tuned!