The Experimentation Sprint Framework

The Experimentation Sprint framework is a Scrum adaptation for the explore phase (from the lean enterprise book; explore -> exploit). Typically the experimentation Sprints start after a ideation/discovery workshop.

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The Experimentation Sprint

The Experimentation Sprint promotes an experimentation period, typically one or two weeks, depending on the experimentation team’s preference. During the Sprint period, the team will work on experiments and all related tasks to test a set of ideas according to the Experimentation Sprint backlog.

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The Experimentation Sprint meetings

Every day, typically at the same time and place, the team holds a meeting to check the progress of the experimentation work tasks. This meeting is the Daily Experimentation Standup: basically all the team members are standing (so the meeting goes faster) and answer three questions, which help the team to self-organize, seeking daily alignment with the work of the Experimentation Sprint. The three questions are: what experiments and learning I had yesterday, what experiments I will do today and what is preventing the progress of my experimentation work.

 

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Before the Experimentation Sprint starts, the team should avoid complete and detailed descriptions of how the experimentation should be done in the Experimentation Sprint. Much is left to the experimentation team to decide. That’s because the team has total freedom to experiment the best possible way to learn something about the experimentation in question.

That’s why the Experimentation Planning meeting is described in terms of the hypothesis area of the validation board. The desired result of such meeting is a commitment to run experiments trying to invalidate the validation board set of hypothesis.

During the Sprint, the team will run many experiments and register the results on the validation board pivot and learning areas. The validation board is revisited at the end of the Experimentation Sprint, at the Experimentation Review meeting.

The Experimentation team

The experimentation team is a multi-functional and self-organized team. The efficiency of the team depends on the ability of members to work together and make the best use of the skills of individuals.  The experimentation team should self-organize. It should not have a team leader who decides who will do which experiment and how. Tasks and problems are raised by all, and these matters should be decided by the team as a whole.

It all starts with an idea. And the idea arises by a person. It could happen, especially when working with experimentation teams, to separate the person who had the original idea of ​​the team that will run experimentation to validate or invalidate it. Don´t do it. By separating the idea from its original owner, you’d be removing the original link and adding a lot of risk to the whole experimentation. Ideas are not well defined and they will change over time. The original owner must be around to influencing its morphing into new shapes.  Therefore, the Experimentation team has one specific role: the Idea Owner (IO).

The IO is the person who felt strong about the original idea.The IO should lead the experimentation effort, through clarification and prioritization of hypothesis and leanings.  Typically, the IO works with the validation board, the canvas with a hypothesis list to validate. It is their function to prioritize and clarify the hypothesis based on their current understanding and alignment among the whole experimentation team. As such, the IO should be available for the team to answer questions and direct the team every time or inquiry.  This combination of authority and availability for the experimentation team makes the IO a key part of the Experimentation Sprint framework.

Idea and experiment

An idea is a thought or a collection of thoughts usually generated with an intent. In this context, ideas are explored and formed during brainstorming sessions that take place during the ideation workshop. An idea might imply a plan, or a suggestion about what to do.

An experiment is a test, a trial, or a validation procedure; an act of investigation for the purpose of learning or discovering something unknown about an idea, a hypothesis, a principle, or a supposition.

The Experimentation Sprint backlog

The Experimentation Sprint backlog is a repository for the ideas to be tested in an Experimentation Sprint. This backlog should be created according to the Experimentation Sprint goal, typically defined by the team prior to its beginning.

During the Experimentation Sprint Planning meeting the team will go through the ideas on the Experimentation Sprint backlog to plan and detail the tasks to be performed during the Experimentation Sprint.

All hypotheses related to the ideas on the Experimentation Sprint backlog should be clearly defined in the hypotheses area at the Experimentation Sprint Validation board.

The Experimentation Sprint Validation board

Every Experimentation Sprint must have one validation board.

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A Validation board is a canvas especially useful for following up on experimentation. It has three main areas for: hypothesis, pivot history, and leanings. The hypothesis are of the board is initially filled during the Experimentation Sprint Planning meeting. During the Experimentation Sprint the team updates the validation board, adding leanings and pivot information to the respective learning and pivot area. The validation board is revealed to all stakeholders on the Experimentation Review meeting.

Explore, than exploit

After the exploration phase, then the proven idea goes to the exploit phase. This will be covered on future articles. The ToThePoint eBook goes in detail about running a lean inception to plan the exploit phase via MVPs.

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