Slack, in the context of Agile/Scrum, is when the time isn’t solely focused on delivering. (It’s important not to confuse this with Slack, a popular electronic communication tool, or the general vocabulary word defined as “a spell of inactivity or laziness”.)
Slack time can be used as buffer to deal with unexpected problems, issues, etc (see: Production Support) and Slack time is also for learning. Problems ensue when the Slack time for learning gets taken over by issues and problems.
In the Agile world, some approaches, like Scaled Agile, conflate both kinds of slack by lumping unexpected problems and learning time into the same bucket. This means Learning Time gets the short end of the stick.
Show me the rate at which your team is Learning (and adapting) and I will predict where they will be in a year’s time.
Cross-Skilling requires Learning Time
Scrum by Example – How to Handle Production Support Issues in Scrum – One common approach to Production Support uses slack time.
- AoAD2 Practice: Slack
- Collaborative Learning (an index) and Collaborative Learning Structures and Techniques
- Cultivate Team Learning with Xtrem Reading
- Good Housekeeping
- Group work: Using cooperative learning groups effectively
- Grow a culture of innovation and learning with frequent Developer Huddles
- How to Spread Technical Practices Like TDD in an Organization
- Increase Learning with 10% Autonomy Time
- Increasing Learning in an Agile Environment: Lessons Learned in an Agile Team
- Long Term Learning of Agile Teams
- Slack, by Martin Fowler
- What is Learning Agility and Why Organizations Need to Focus on It
- The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization – Peter Senge
- Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency – Tom DeMarco
Mark Levison has been helping Scrum teams and organizations with Agile, Scrum and Kanban style approaches since 2001. From certified scrum master training to custom Agile courses, he has helped well over 8,000 individuals, earning him respect and top rated reviews as one of the pioneers within the industry, as well as a raft of certifications from the ScrumAlliance. Mark has been a speaker at various Agile Conferences for more than 20 years, and is a published Scrum author with eBooks as well as articles on InfoQ.com, ScrumAlliance.org an AgileAlliance.org.
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