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Agile SCRUM for One (part 1): Iterative Planning for Individuals

Do your projects ever take months to complete?

When you’re in the middle of one of these projects, do you ever get impatient, longing for the launch day so you can make all your hard work pay off?

Do you ever have doubts about whether the project is a good idea when feedback on it is still so far away?

I want to suggest that creative individuals can solve some of these problems by using a technique called “iterative planning”.

I’ve been moving more and more in this direction myself, and it has taken away a lot of impatience and uncertainty in my work.

Iterative planning is a method widely used in Agile Development, where software development teams use something called a “scrum process” to manage their projects.

There’s a whole big specialized terminology, and several different roles involved in scrum when used by a team. However, for our purposes, it essentially involves breaking a project down into short sprints (maybe two weeks long), with each sprint resulting in a deliverable product iteration — a version of the product that you can get feedback on.

Normally Agile methods are used by teams. However, I believe iteration planning is a technique that can also be used profitably by most individuals using the Fractal Planning Methodology.

Agile methods are also primarily used in software development. But iterative planning can be used very profitably by nearly everyone involved in planning and executing a big project:

  • book authors
  • event coordinators
  • product developers
  • etc.

This will be a multi-part series. I don’t know right now how many parts it will be (perhaps 5-7 is a good guess).

I plan to discuss at least the following topics:

  • The psychological reasons why iterations help us keep our head in the game.
  • Why “getting feedback” is important, and what counts as “getting feedback”.
  • How to plan a project in iterations when starting from scratch.
  • How to convert an existing plan into a series of iterations.
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  1. Lyle
    Posted June 10, 2011 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    I wonder if bring Agile techniques in may just be adding another layer of abstraction and complexity.

    As a software developer of many years I’ll be interested your application of Agile to individuals and their projects.

    • Jim Stone
      Posted June 10, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      Hi Lyle. I won’t be suggesting that all the agile machinery be brought to bear on the projects of individuals. It’s mostly just the habit of breaking a project into a series of iterations that allow for feedback from the market or other stakeholders. It’s a way to avoid getting in the middle of a 3 month project and suddenly being plagued by doubts and running out of steam. With that said, I would love to hear your thoughts along the way as I publish more posts on the topic.

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