Organizational Sprint Pulse
Team Pulse, Sprint Pulse
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The Scrum team and the rest of the organization are out of step, causing either waiting time or Sprint interruptions.
Scrum Teams depend on finances, sales & marketing, support, and other functions in an organization. They are rarely an independent unit. A Scrum Team needs to coordinate with the rest of the organization and other teams. For example when revising architecture, doing integration test, or introducing new tools. If the surrounding organization has a monthly pulse due to the financial rhythm, and the Scrum teams has a different end /start date of Sprints, the organization as a whole risk to be out of step. The same is true if the Scrum Teams have different Sprint lengths.
The surrounding organization must learn to respect the teams' Sprints and not disturb them arbitrarily. At the same time we need to support the flow from the organization into the Scrum Teams in a way so we avoid unnecessary waiting or interrupts.
Synchronize the teams’ Sprints by having the same start/end date at least once a month. Let the organization as a whole follow a monthly rhythm that can harmonize flow for Scrum Teams' Sprints, as well as for the financial rhythm of the business. Allow teams and departments to choose shorter Sprints. For example, use a Sprint length of 1, 2, or 4 weeks.
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As a manager from a Scrum organization with ”Organizational Sprint Pulse” formulated it:
"Since things are done in sprints of equal length, it is easier to synchronize. For example, if department A needs something from department B, it can be expected to be worked on in near future. At least the progress can be followed."
In other words, working at the same cadence reduces mura (inconsistency) by keeping the work flows in balance and aligning Sprint start and end dates. Consistent cadence helps smooth out flow , reducing muri (stress). Both of these contribute to reduced waste. Organizational Sprint Pulse makes it easier for teams to share goals and to work together, and makes it easier for all team to share a single instance of each of the major Sprint events of Sprint Planning, the Sprint Review, and the Sprint Retrospective. These combined waste reductions contribute to achieving the Greatest Value.
Organizational Sprint Pulse can appear to compensate for lack of Cross-Functional Teams and Stable Teams in order to keep specialization and resource management — reminiscent of pre-Scrum times. Explicit synchronization points can be (ab)used to move team members between teams or to coordinate between specialized teams. It is not the intention of the pattern. Organizational Sprint Pulse is best applied for Cross-Functional Teams and Stable Teams.
Organizational Sprint Pulse supports coordination together with Scrum of Scrums.
 Donald Reinertsen. The Principles of Product Development Flow: Second Generation Lean Product Development, 2009, Celeritas Publishing, pp. 176-178.
Picture from: http://www.railswest.com/time/index.html.