Since we are here to enjoy ourselves, each article will now be accompanied by a song (at the end of the article) and a beautiful picture.

Ostrich race in Prague, 1924
Ostrich race in Prague, 1924

I’m really angry with myself because I’ve developed a nasty habit of using the term sprint instead of iteration, and I can’t get out of it.

In 2019, I started to think seriously about the terms sprint and iteration and the possible interpretations that those who hear them may have.

I had actually exchanged on the subject with Claude Aubry, a French veteran of scrum who has done a lot for its adoption and propagation in the French-speaking cultural sphere via his book Scrum which is now in its 6ᵉ edition. We had each come to the conclusion that the marathon metaphor would be more appropriate.

The term sprint has been chosen to describe an iteration in the jargon of the scrum framework. It is never stated in the scrum guide why this term was chosen and not simply the term « iteration ».

Perhaps the intention was to give the idea of focus that the athletic sprint requires, but it has often remained an incantation in the software domain unfortunately… (e.g. multiple objectives or more vicious multiple epics worked on at the same time).

They are fixed length events of one month or less to create consistency. A new Sprint starts immediately after the conclusion of the previous Sprint.

What I don’t like is that, if we continue the metaphor, the athletic sprint requires you to spend almost all your energy, like a joule explosion, over a short period of time to reach your goal as quickly as possible: the finish line.
This is a far cry from the idea of a sustainable (and sustained 😉 @Yoan Lureault) rhythm that is present in the agile manifesto and that makes this continuous sequence of sprints possible year after year.

I will often insist in this blog on the very strong taylorist mentality (often found under the term command and control mentality in agile spheres) that persists in the corporate environment, even if it is often not clearly conscious. If you sprint in a taylorist environment, you’re going to hurt yourself. You don’t risk sprains or strains, but certainly burn-out and/or brown-out…


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