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User stories in progress

I just read a (little older) post on Mike Cohen's blog titled "Should a Team Swarm on to One Backlog Item at a Time?". I had some interesting discussions with a colleague over the last couple of weeks around the challenges this provides. This colleague is a new Scrum Master, with a team new to Scrum as well. The team started a lot of stories and did not finish many of them in there first sprint (no surprises there) and in their second sprint tried to stick to keeping the WIP (work in progress) to the absolute minimum - meaning they tried to swarm onto one story at a time. Our discussions revolved around the frustrations this brought to the team as it became almost impossible for all 4 developers to work on the same story.

I am a big fan of "start little, finish more" but an even bigger fan of the application of the "common sense" rule in Agile. Sticking to fewer stories and having everyone on the team contributing to get them done before moving onto the next remains key, but if that effectively becomes an impediment, then it has to be removed.

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