Sprint 0 Exercise: The Sailboat – 352 Noodles & Doodles Episode 25

Today, we’re rounding out our list of favorite Sprint 0 exercises: the Sailboat. In previous exercises, we asked you and your development team to envision the newspaper headline after your website has launched and then to have each stakeholder sketch out how they imagine your site’s new homepage to look. In the Sailboat exercise, we want everyone to take a step back and think of the development process at large – we’ll try to imagine everything working in our favor, to identify anything that might slow us down and to discover problems that could potentially derail development all together. We’re looking for the wind in our sails, anchors and any lurking icebergs.

This is one of our favorite exercises, because it gets everyone involved with the project together to identify all of the project’s strengths and weaknesses so we can plot a course that will avoid any potential pitfalls. Learn more about the Sailboat exercise below, and then get developing!

Transcript below.

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[Jennifer Fix:] Hi everyone. My name is Jennifer. I’m a Scrum Master for 352, and today we’re going to be talking a little bit about one of our favorite Sprint 0 exercises, the sailboat. For this exercise, you’ll need some sticky notes and some pens, as well as a white board with either this drawing or something similar to it. If you have done the headline news exercise that I talked about in my last post, you can actually use that feedback for the beginning of this exercise. 
You’re going to want to involve everyone who’s a part of Sprint 0, so your scrum team, your product owner and any other stakeholders that have been involved. So, at the beginning of this process what you’re going to do is ask everyone to write down what their goals are for the completion of this project. If you’ve done the headline news exercises I’ve mentioned, you can use those goals as your starting point. And once everyone’s taken a few minutes with their sticky notes and their pens to write down a couple of their ultimate goals, you’re going to have everyone share what those goals were and why those are the goals. And then you’re going to post them here next to the island. The reason that we start with the end in the final goal is it’s going to help us be thinking through how we get and how we navigate to that land at the end of the project. Once everyone has shared their goals, hopefully you have a variety, but there is a common theme that everyone is sharing. You’re then going to go through and describe each of these other sections. We have three main areas that we want to consider when we’re brainstorming in this capacity.  One is the wind in your sails. What are things that are going to help move us along throughout the project? It could be anything from good funding, to confirmed third-party integration, to perhaps a web project manager on the client side who’s going to be able to provide helpful feedback, any and everything that’ll be helpful getting the project to move along.  The next is anchors. Anchors are going to be things that might drag us down in the project. Do we have slow turn-around times? Is there a chance that there might be a break needed or we might have delays with integration in any way, anything that could drag us down.  And then finally, your icebergs. What are things that could derail this project completely? Maybe the project runs out of funding, or we lose someone over the course of the project, or there’s third-party implementation that might or might not work out. We want to be aware of all of these things. 

When you have people write down their thoughts on this, you can do this one of two ways. Either have everyone take a few minutes and write down their feedback on all three at once or you can break it up which is what I like to do, helps segment out the conversation nicely. So, I’ll start by giving everyone a few minutes to write down things that are considered wind in their sails and then we’ll talk about all of those as a group. Then we’ll repeat that exercise for anchors and icebergs.

We love this exercise because it’s a great way to get an overview of what everyone feels are the strengths and weakness of the project. And as the scrum master, it’s a great way for me to be aware of what we’re working with and to try and help avoid us get in a situation where an iceberg has the ability to derail us completely. I hope this has been helpful. I hope that you find it to be a wonderful exercise that engages not only your client, but also your team. Thanks for joining us.

  • Mike Burgiss

    Love it. This is one reason 352 rocks!