A few months ago my team attended a two day training event to become certified SAFe 4 Practitioners through Scaled Agile Inc. I have experience with agile software development from previous roles but never took official training to understand the entire process until this event. What really caught my attention was the concept of an innovation sprint and I want to explain why your team should be incorporating one!
A team is often busy working on the features they have committed to during the program increment (PI) planning with an intense focus on continuous customer value delivery. Because of this intense focus, innovation can often be left behind in favor of near-term delivery of features and this is what innovation sprints attempt to help with.
- Increased engagement and buy-in: innovation sprints are just plain fun. They allow employees to explore their creative sides in a relaxed environment and learn new skills that can help benefit the team.
- Employee morale boost: allowing the employees to explore invigorates them and provides a refreshing way to introduce new concepts. Idea generation empowers the staff to directly contribute to how products can best serve users.
If you’re like me, having some dedicated time to focus on innovation just sounds awesome, right? It did to me when I learned about it. Primarily because as an engineer and designer, I LOVE to exercise my creativity! Throughout sprints, I typically have many ideas on how we can improve our user interface to better serve our users, however, it’s often difficult to fit this work in when constantly trying to meet requirements in a fast paced work environment. When I was told that we should focus on innovating, my ears naturally perked up!
Some management may insist that innovation should be happening throughout regular sprints and that innovation sprints are therefore a waste of time deviating away from the end goal. I would argue that to be untrue in some sense. While I do think innovation should always be happening throughout regular sprints, often innovation is put on the back burner when deadlines creep up and schedule is tightening. Therefore, innovation sprints give teams a dedicated time to use their imagination which often leads to groundbreaking results. Innovation sprints serve a valuable purpose in bringing teams together and improving products. They are incredibly useful for teams to generate new ideas, explore new and creative ways to improve products, and they boost employee morale!
Does your team implement innovation sprints or something similar? Let me know in the comments and on Twitter (https://www.twitter.com/kyle_ui).
- SAFe Innovation Sprint https://www.scaledagileframework.com/innovation-and-planning-iteration/
- Innovation Image: https://www.goaugment.io/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Innovation-is-an-Attitude.jpg