So, what’s keeping me up at night lately? Trying to figure out where to begin. Although I don’t even know if I’ll get this job (I just officially applied for it this week, supposed to interview soon), it’s almost all that I think about! So, assuming that I do land the gig…Where do I begin? Well, as Lewis Carroll so elusively put it, “Begin at the beginning”, and in Agile, the beginning is Sprint 0.

It’s interesting how some folks are opposed to planning. They just want to get down to the “real work”. But what they don’t understand is that, if you don’t start with a good framework, you’re doing like the Good Book says and building your house on sand: Yes, God is the ultimate Agilist. He  knows that right-sized planning will save you a ton of future headache.

So, what IS Sprint 0? In a nutshell, Sprint 0 is doing what is necessary to prepare for Sprint 1. It sets the framework for how the team will operate and remain healthy. There’s lots of opinions on what belongs in Sprint 0, and, in my opinion, as with most things, there is no right answer. It depends on the team makeup, personality, Agile maturity, etc, etc, etc. But, I did meet with my mentor and come up with a good starting list. Each of these really deserve their own blog post – don’t worry, it’s on my Product backlog 🙂 –

  • Team Charter
  • Team Name/Marketing
  • Team Values
  • Roles
  • Who are our Customers?
  • Team Working Agreement (internal)
  • Team Working Agreement (external)
  • Meeting Ground Rules
  • Ceremonies
  • Definition of Done
  • Definition of Ready
  • Sprint Length
  • Initial Product Backlog

This may seem like a lot to bite off at one time. But, man, I’ve reviewed the list several times and I can’t find a single item that I’m willing to table – I whole-heartedly recommend starting off right. “But,”, you might say, “what if my team has already formed and moving along?” Get these conversations into your Product backlog ASAP. Make them User Stories like all of your other work. Even assign Business Values to them and see how they rise to the top. It’s never too late to set the stage for success. As a matter of fact, without discussing these items, one might argue how you even know what success looks like…