My Agile 15 Minute Rule

For the past couple of years, I've been working as a creative in a very engineering-focused environment. This presents a whole set of really interesting challenges, culture clashes, debates, same-word-different-definition issues, incorrect assumptions, and yes. Frustrations.

The good news is that while my career has been focused on Design, Art Direction and Creative Direction, I also have one foot firmly placed in the engineering world. I credit my Dad for this, who brought home an Apple ][ back in the day, and gave both my brother and myself coding projects/challenges to complete at a really young age. It stuck. And now, I use this "coding hobby" every day at work.

This doesn't mean I strap on some headphones, roll up my sleeves and start coding every day. It means I can concept intelligently. That I know if a Big Idea will mean Big Investment in engineering or if it will just take 15 minutes for a UI change that will have minimal impact on code.

The Agile Process

I love it. No. Seriously. I think it is really amazing. Especially having spent so much of my career swimming up waterfalls, it's a great way for a team of engineers to work.

However, when it comes to getting small tasks done quickly, "the process" is a major problem.

Let me give you an example. We recently launched a new marketing website, and I needed a redirect from our old site to the new site. That means cracking open the .htaccess file, and adding this:

Redirect 301 /index.html /newdomain.com/newpage.index

Save it. Upload it. Done.

This became a story in the sprint. The Sprint was delayed. It took over two weeks for this to happen. And yes. I'm ranting.

The 15 Minute New Rule

So here's my idea.

In every Sprint, we build in six, 0.5 point wild cards. These 0.5 point tasks shouldn't take more than 15 minutes. They don't involve discussion. They don't involve research. They are tasks like:

• Hey, can you update the .htaccess file with a provided redirect?

• Could you please replace the color in the CSS from #cc3333 to #a32828?

• When you have a sec, could you add to the top padding of the graphic by 5px?

To ward off an onslaught of requests, stakeholders are limited to six of these requests per 2 week sprint. The condition that they are completed within one business day.