Team Capacity

Consider Innovation During Capacity Planning

Innovation Turtle

What I’ve learned is that “Innovation happens when and where it happens”.  You can’t schedule innovation and you can’t create innovation by committee.  Think about it … when do innovative solutions pop into your head?  A moment of time when your mind is free?   During an impromptu discussion with co-workers?  These are the times that innovation happens and although they are not scheduled we need to have time in our day for it. If people are fully tasked with assigned activities throughout the sprint then innovation dies. Even if an innovative idea surfaces, it is immediately squashed by the all ready full plate of commitments and is not given another thought.  Innovation is responsible for the features that will “WOW” the customer.  If your product doesn’t include any of these then you’re going to have a tough time rising above your competition. Collaboration and being a good corporate citizen requires time also.  If you’re having difficulty establishing sprint capacity and at the same time allocating time for innovation, collaboration, learning and good corporate citizenship then take a look at the formula below.  This example is for a 2 week sprint (each developer does this):

  1. Total the number of hours needed for meetings, other scheduled events (scrum events/ceremonies count here), vacation, career building activities, etc. We will call that “Planned Interruptions”.
  2. Potential Available Time = Total hours in the sprint minus Planned Interruptions.
  3. Determine a “Load Factor” which is the percentage of “Potential Available Time” you will allocate to assigned work (planned tasks within the sprint).  Let’s go with 85% for your first iteration and adjust it as needed for future sprints.
  4. Available Time = Potential Available Time * Load Factor.
  5. Unplanned Interruptions = Potential Available Time – Available Time

So if we had determined 12 hours of Planned Interruptions for this developer for a 10 day (8 hours/day) sprint/iteration with a Load Factor of 85% then we would come up with:

Potential Available Time = 80 -12 = 68 hours
Available Time = 68 * .85 =  57.8 = 58 hours (rounded)
Unplanned Interruptions = 68 – 58 = 10 hours

Load Factor Table Image

This would mean with a Load Factor of 85% this developer has an average of 5.8 hours/day to allocate to assigned sprint tasks. Remember, you determine/adjust the Load Factor as you gain experience with your sprints.  Hopefully, this formula can assist teams just starting out on how to assign initial sprint capacity or use it for the long haul if you like.

Unplanned interruptions is where innovation occurs, because it is dedicated to collaboration and collaboration breeds innovation.  It is allocated for any collaboration work that needs to be done outside of assigned tasks and planned interruptions. So, don’t squash innovation and good corporate citizenship at your organization.  Allow for unplanned interruptions, team empowerment and trust to drive innovation forward.

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