Chapter 34. Friday Wins and a Case Study in Ritual Design

Kellan Elliott-McCrea

Culture is what you celebrate. Rituals are the tools you use to shape culture.

Yet very few of us think much about ritual design.

A standard piece of software development practice that many teams let lapse, or merely let lapse into being suboptimal is “Friday Wins,” sometimes called sprint demos or sprint reviews. But you can take what can be a flaccid and repetitive meeting and make it a valuable ritual by grounding it in values.

When I’m designing Friday Wins, here are the handful of values I’m thinking about in my ritual design:

Learning oriented

Learning-oriented cultures look forward to and eagerly participate in reviews. If your team dreads postmortems or has lackluster end-of-sprint reviews, it’s likely that you aren’t facilitating a learning-oriented culture. Rather than saving reflections for when something has gone wrong, make the cadence of a weekly Commit-Reflect cycle the heart of your software process, and make reflection a thing to look forward to.

Call it “Friday Wins” versus “Sprint Review.”

Organizational awareness

The insight that you can’t predict who needs what information in a complex system drove NASA’s original “systems management” insight, and most high-performing technology organizations since. (see also Team of Teams). Friday Wins should be maximizing for ambient awareness and chance encounters.

Don’t silo wins by team. Invite the largest number of people who can ...

Get 97 Things Every Engineering Manager Should Know now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.