AFH 031: Natural Software Development using #NoEstimates and Variable Length Sprints [PODCAST]


Ryan Ripley, Ron Quartel, Amitai Schlair


Ryan Ripley (@ryanripley), Ron Quartel (@agileagitator) and Amitai Schlair (@schmonz) got together to discuss a real live #NoEstimates project, variable length sprints, the power of the sprint goal, and true software craftsmanship.

Ron joined us back on episode 10 to discuss Fast Agile and came back to talk about a project he recently kicked off at a major corporation that uses #NoEstimates practices and modifications to the scrum framework.

We talked through common concerns and questions that come up when discussing these topics and even highlighted some patterns that seem to be emerging from these #NoEstimates experiments.

And then…we called it a night.

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  • Tim Bourguignon

    Great insightful discussion. Boy I would love to try something like this.

    Ron talked a bit about it, his team are true “craftsmen”. I wonder how much the team-setup, level and experience of the team members enable vs allow such an experiment.

    On the project I currently work on, one of the teams has been dealing with user stories that are hard to define beforehand since the “analysis of what is to be done” is often the major part of the work itself. Even though we reduced the size of the stories to the bare minimum, they are really struggling with the “no end in sight” effect. But this is exactly what Ron seems to be doing with success… I need to ponder this further.

    Anyhow, I’d love to hear more about how to get “normal” agile team to such a high level where they could start breaking the “standard” rules of Scrum. That’s one nut I’m trying to crack on my own DevJourney project.

    • Hi Tim,

      My own opinion is that variable length iterations and #NoEstimates are very advanced agile practices that require highly skilled teams to execute safely. I think pose an important question about “leveling up” that I’ll make sure we cover in a future episode.

      Thanks for listening and for the great questions!


  • Rob Jago

    Wasn’t sure if they should be separate comments or one.

    With the variable schedule, how were demos planned – stakeholders?

    Just to confirm, these days were normal working days and no long days and/or overtime.

    How clear were the requirements?(70% or higher)

    Maybe, not until May/June, but how would deal with “loose ends” where the focus may only be 1 day’s worth of work?

    How were defects addressed in this pattern?

    How were/was engagements with outside stakeholders impact/participation
    – ops
    – QA
    – users
    – upper management

    Would you have done this with any one of the items not present
    – senior developers
    – had a working knowledge of Agile/Scrum going into the assignment
    – team commitment
    – owner participation and engagement
    – technology new to the team

    • Hey Rob, thanks for the questions! We are going to get Ron back on the podcast next month and I’ll be sure to get these questions asked. Thanks again! –Ryan

      • Rob Jago

        Hi Ryan. Thank you. I look forward to it!

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