Want a Quick Agile Win? Try Office Hours

When you are an Agile Coach you sometimes must resign yourself to the fact that it will usually take team members awhile to get it and victories can be few and far between. One thing that I can recommend for a quick win and something that has worked well for me on multiple occasions (when it could be implemented) is something that I called office hours. I can only assume that I am not the one who invented this, but it is something that I “discovered” independently to solve the issue of resources being pulled into unproductive meetings when I needed them to be on task for our stories.

The concept is simple. Get your team to agree to block out two hours from their schedule (basically set a meeting with themselves in outlook) and two (or three) in the afternoon. This way we know that the team has at least four (or five) hours of heads down task work every day. If there is an emergency they can always accept a meeting during this time, but it does dissuade the unnecessary meetings and allows the team to work together (or independently) at predictable times, leading to a better cadence to the day, week and iteration.

Interestingly enough, my most recent team that I left made this one of their decisions from my last retrospective with them without a great deal of prompting from me. And for additional synchronicity, the very day that they came up with this improvement at retrospective, I stumbled across a blog “Four Hours of Concentration” that briefly discusses this as a common pattern among highly respected professionals.

You may want to try it yourself. I am sure that your team will thank you.

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