Why do people rarely sprint at work

Why creative people sometimes have to break out of the rigid Scrum method

The thing with the ideas

People have ideas - on their bikes, in the shower, in the garden, while falling asleep or waking up, while reading, hiking or running. Sometimes in the agency and even brainstorming, often elsewhere. But very seldom - if we are honest - when sprinting.

Because a breathless short-distance run requires full concentration on just this one task that is being completed. Deviating, pausing or turning, as some ideas require - even a detour - not only jeopardizes success, it ruins the whole undertaking.

Now an agile project strings together sprints in order to create testable and resilient results within manageable distances. The art direction struggles, the strategy laments - but the end of the sprint is approaching and leaves little time for the new, surprising path. Of course, the backlog and "parking lot" are waiting for approaches that do not fit into the sprint period . Outstanding ideas, unseen solutions and the timing of two or three-week sprints do not always go well together.

Long live the difference

This is not a plea against agile work in interdisciplinary teams from UX / UI and development, from creation and technology. It is a plea for the difference that agencies should make, especially in agile projects. We owe that difference to the brands we manage. He swaps what is right and eternally the same for something special - and he cannot be captured in story points. Instead, a few pragmatic suggestions help to combine creative excellence and agile work.

It starts at the beginning. A strategically conceptual ramp-up phase, also known as “product vision”, sheds light on fundamental project issues. What should the digital product be able to do? And above all, what not? Are we following the trend or are we shaping a new one? Are we planning the minimal approach or the next industry standard? Regardless of whether it is a digital ecosystem, lean campaign portal, high-performance sales platform or app: The opinions at the table are often diffuse, their variance increases with the number of seats occupied. This is also critical in terms of budget, because there are often worlds between “fast and pragmatic” or “comprehensive and crazy”.

The goal of this phase is therefore obvious: a common understanding of the desired digital product. On the way there, it is important to create space for the big picture, for ideas, aspirations and the difference, beyond micro-user stories and technical requirements. Fired by benchmarks, specified by user data analyzes, concretized by workshops and refined by design variants of central interfaces, the hoped-for contribution of the product to the brand experience should now be outlined. The basis for a differentiated implementation that helps the user as only this specific brand can.

Overall, there is a consensus on key issues. It can be tedious and stressful. In agile sprint mode, however, these fundamental questions are hardly answered any more. Because there is production. What? You should know that beforehand.

Space for creative solutions can also be created in the sprints. For larger projects with extensive individual features, for example, creative “vision sprints” help. Mini ramp-ups for complex interfaces that can be effectively designed using design thinking methods, for example. The customer and agency receive a clear picture of the next steps, including the first design variants.

Depending on the nature of the project, it has also proven useful to separate UX / UI sprints from development sprints. Only when the design and interface are in place and all conceptual questions have been clarified does technical development begin. This “preliminary” UX / UI sprint is not just teaching, but it creates space. For example, for intensive customer coordination, new ideas or disruptive design approaches that affect and combine several features. At the same time, developers can build other features. The project does not stand still.

Each of these variants can still be followed by integrated teams from UX / UI and technology. The involvement of the trades is only rectified according to the phase and distributed more precisely. Not every design discussion needs the help of developers, not every piece of code needs a UX expert holding hands.

Standards become standard

A digital style guide also helps to establish a high level of design. Especially with teams working in parallel and complex features, the digital visuality of a brand can be secured and further developed. Regardless of whether apps, microsites or digital features are built somewhere: All stakeholders can access CI-compliant elements - often already stored with code. This strengthens the brand in the digital space and saves costs, as not every element has to be rebuilt.

Brands need more than software

At Interone, we see Scrum as a contemporary way of developing agile digital products - no more and no less. So we define the requirements and framework parameters before the start of a project - as well as enough flexibility to creatively readjust. Creative aspiration and efficient production are common drivers of digital brand differentiation. The design thinking credo “Make sure you design the right thing, then design the thing right” also applies here. Who sends a sprinter to the track without preparation - especially if he has to go straight to the next race afterwards?