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Innovation vs business value
When you are working in a development team that has left the pioneering stage, you have the tendency to be just sprinting and working on the most important stories for the business. Innovative features, experiments and technical debt seem less important than features that have an immediate impact to the stakeholders. These tasks are in general time-consuming and they usually deliver no direct value. They are however, equally important when it comes to retain or improve maintainability and improve the general development speed. They could also make other features possible that do have a large business value.
So, how can you improve this? There are many ways to encourage the team to do this, but not too many ways to keep the balance. One option is to set a timeboxed duration per sprint where the team has all the freedom they want, with just a few simple rules:
- Whatever they work on, should benefit the project;
- There are no ‘secret’ projects within the team, everyone should share what they are planning to work on before starting and share what they did afterwards.
This is generally referred to as the Friday Afternoon. A place and time where you can share beer, thoughts and dream about what the project may be. A good collaboration between the development team and the Product Owner is crucial as trust is key to success for this.
Benefits for the team
- Improves moral and developer happiness
- A fixed place and time to work on stuff that generally is left behind
- Freedom to improve and innovate without stakeholder interference
Benefits for the stakeholders
- Business ideas might pop-up from within the scrum team
- Maintainability is stable or improved over time
- New features can be implemented more easily
- No time is wasted because everything benefits the project one way or the other.