Agile Iterations: Why Bother?

Gil Broza is on a mission to make software development more effective, humane and responsible. He helps people pick up where Scrum left off, especially on the technical, human and thinking sides of agile. His new book "The Agile Mind-Set" helps practitioners go beyond process and adopt a true agile approach to work. He is also the author of "The Human Side of Agile", the definitive practical book on leading agile teams to greatness; host of the popular virtual trainings Individuals and Interactions and Packing List for Your Agile Journey; and co-leader (with Johanna Rothman) of the annual Influential Agile Leader event. Any given day, you can find him coaching, consulting, training, speaking, facilitating and writing. Get Gil's popular 20-session mini-program, Something Happened on the Way to Agile, free at

Based on Gil’s new book, The Agile Mind-Set: Making Agile Processes Work.

Teams run into trouble when they adopt agile practices without really knowing why they are doing them.  I often hear such statements:

  • “We didn’t finish everything we planned for this sprint. We’ll just roll the remainder into the next one.”
  • “Our iterations are never long enough to do our work properly. We should make them longer.”
  • “Sprints feel like such overhead. We could be much more efficient if we just worked heads down until we finished these stories.”

This can happen when people who’ve been told to use iterations (sprints) still don’t understand why. And when they act on these statements, they unknowingly undermine their efforts to use agile. Let’s unpack this.

Thinking inside the box
Some endeavors in life are “scope-boxed” or “content-boxed”: To accomplish the goal, you must finish certain things. To obtain a university degree, for instance, you must complete a set of courses with passing (but not necessarily perfect) grades. To continue eating your meals at home, you must regularly clean the dishes.

Other endeavors are “quality-boxed”: To accomplish the goal, you must reach a higher standard than simply getting the …

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