Dealing with Frequently failed commitments due to too much ad hoc work

The problem: The team has a problem with making their (sprint) commitment due to large amounts (over 60-ish percent of total work done in sprint) of unplannable work.

What helped with the teams I’ve worked with was to:

  • Create a board that visualizes all the work in process. This provides an insight in the work being done and the disturbances;
  • Make classes of service visible as risk categories on the board. This helps to visualize what work is important and how we treat it;
  • Introduce WiP limits for each person. To address the initial problem, it helps to assign WiP limits to every team member. This forces the team to reduce multitasking on “regular” planned work and have room to respond to unplannable work;
  • Have a Demo every two weeks to show what is being worked on and what was finished. This creates understanding and transparency;
  • Do a bi-weekly Retrospective to review the process and design improvement experiments;
  • Have a daily stand up to make a plan for the day and coordinate actions towards the (sprint) goals.

Other problem that keep your team from achieving its maximum potential?  Check out the cheatsheet

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