Scrum the Fire

When your back is to the wall, the list is longer than both of your arms, everything is behind, and you feel like you just have to jump in and get as many people doing as many things as you possibly can and somehow, if you just put your head down and plow through, you are going to get it all done and then soon, right after this, you are going to figure out how to make sure this doesn’t happen again, doesn’t work.

Putting your head down and charging ahead gets you nowhere but head first into a brick wall. 

Park everyone. If you have to, send them on holidays. Build a backlog of work that needs to get done. Focus the backlog on the 20% of the work that gives you 80% of the benefit and move that 20% to the top of the list. Have your team validate and agree with the backlog, score it for points, and when you’re ready, pull the first card from the list and get it done, preferably by having the team swarm on one card at a time. Measure your velocity, retrospect weekly, and always have one improvement for the team and your organization that is at the top of your list each and every week.

And if you can’t get the backlog done and your scrum team organized because you are still being pulled in too many directions then your focus is the problem. Hire, delegate, restructure, drop and eject. As a leader you have to see this coming and continuously be building and pruning to make sure that you can effectively scale your organization. Fighting fires isn’t your job. Making sure they don’t happen is.