Small Success Story


I had a very cool experience successfully introducing someone to agile that I wanted to share. I’m very new to introducing this to people so any feedback about my interactions would be great!

One of my clients is a barbershop that needs on and off website and graphic design work done through out the year. They are located right off of a college campus, so this back to school time has been busy. I use Scrum to manage all of their work; I handle any of the web design and I contract out the graph design work.

Two sprints ago, the current designer had his first child so I kicked off the Sprint with one that had never been exposed to agile. I don’t normally like to give a long rant about sprints and stands up and all because in the past I feel that it has scared some people. I decided to just slowly introduce different steps and see what got adopted.

We kick it off with Sprint planning. I explained to him the first thing that needed to be done and he said “What’s the deadline?” It actually threw me off for a minute.

I said, “Well, I normally tell them when they can expect things to be done. How long do you need to do it? I normally like to set two week goals.”

His reply, “I like that, two weeks from today is Aug. 24. Let’s shoot for that as a drop dead date, but I can probably have it done before that.” At this point, I gave him a little dialog about how I like to estimate these tasks because sometimes I can get two or three done within a two week period - or “Sprint”. I explained the following point system and asked him his thoughts:

1 - extra small task
2 - small sized task
3 - medium sized task
5 - large sized task
8 - this is going to take me all sprint
13 - we need to break this down into smaller tasks

He (obviously?) said - this is an 8 and will take me the full two weeks. I thought was fair and he liked the concept of the points and two-week iterations.

I waited one day and then gave him a call. I explained some updates I made to their website, two more design tasks that were requested by the client, and asked if he had any questions or needed anything. I also explained that I told the client they could expect what he was currently working on around Aug. 24.

He immediately asked about deadlines and more details for the newly requested items. I explained they just go to the backlog and will be brought in to a future Sprint. He sighed with relief, told me he just started on his task, but would have an initial layout the next day.

Over the course of the next few days he sends me mock ups, I passed them onto the client for feedback, circled that feedback to the designer, and we got the design finished and approved by the client by the original commitment date of September 7th, speaking literally every day.

I then have my second Sprint planning with this designer. He said although he only got that one task done, he felt over the next two weeks he could a little more than that, barring that he gets the timely feedback he did the first time around. We estimated and committed to a few more designs, set a regular time to talk each day, and again after getting continuous feedback from the client, delivered at the end of the Sprint.

The third Sprint just started on Wednesday. I received a request from the client for a major revision on a design we just delivered from the previous Sprint. He had a brand new concept idea he wanted us to do. The client being familiar with how we work, said it was okay to wait until next Sprint to make the revision.

At our stand up, I bring up this request to the designer. He again says “Oh no, will this impact the deadline for what I’m currently working on?” I explained he should continue on with that as the priority and we’ll simply bring the revisions into the next Sprint. He again, sighed with relief, and says “This is a really good way to work!”

It’s a very rewarding feeling when all of the cogs are working as a well oiled machine.


This is an awesome story. You got someone to buy into the system without overwhelming them or resorting to a hard sell. I always wonder how many other failed adoptions would have succeeded if the change agents had treaded more lightly.