Leeds, UK

What Are Your Sprint Buttons?

What Are Your Sprint Buttons?

Many years ago when I first attended a Scrum course, it was suggested that the burndown chart was similar to a boat moving from point a to point b and the burndown records its progress – sometimes it is on course, sometimes it is off and adjustments need to be made in order to correct the course.

Boats on a Calm Sea


The burndown plots the progress so far, i.e. it an indication of progress so made.



Try not to focus on it too much – The burndown chart is not the important artefact within Scrum

THE most important one is the Incremental Release.

However, after spending a week in the Mediterranean sailing a friend’s boat I found that I was able to change course by pressing one of two buttons – “Negative Degree” or “Positive Degree” in order to move the boat back onto course.


OK, the correction wasn’t instant but within a minute I was able to see what affect my actions caused.

This action jogged my memory back to the Scrum course and got me thinking –

What are my Sprint Buttons?”

Being part of a Scrum Team (i.e. Developer), I never felt that I was totally in control of the sprint. We were never able to change / correct course as easily as I would have liked.

So how could we get back on course? What are the buttons that the team could use?

  • We could hope that we’d complete PBIs  quicker than we thought (i.e. have under-estimated the complexity of the PBIs).
  • Work a few more hours extra time, keeping in mind a sustainable development pace – Still not a guarantee.
  • We could negotiate with the PO and either replace PBIs in the sprint or change the acceptance criteria on existing ones. – Never sat nicely with me
  • Potentially remove some Tech Debt from the sprint. – Mmm, more balls of mud to deal with 
  • One thing that we must NEVER do is –  lower the quality of the definition of done – that way lays madness by adding uncertainty and increasing risk – NEVER do this.

We have some tactics we can try but we’re actually quite limited to make a direct impact in that Sprint.

It is only over time, by improving our estimating accuracy and by asking suitable questions to drive out uncertainty that improves our forecast.

So my question to you is…

 What Are Your Sprint Buttons To Keep On Course?

I’d be really interested to hear what techniques you’ve used.