What to do when some team members prefer X and others prefer Y? Try consent!
Context: my team is pretty new (even if it consists of experienced devs). We started doing Scrum like 2 weeks ago and there is still a lot of uncertainty on how to do things and we are still figuring out what works for us.
Today, we had a “I prefer X over Y” kind of discussion in the team. The topic was quite important – we were discussing the length of our sprints (currently 1 week). Some people would like the sprint length to stay as it is, some would like to make it 2 weeks.
Now, how to cope with such issues?
My approach is the following. First, I check whether it is a preference-based problem. To reveal this, I look for objections by asking the following question:
Is there any argument-based reason that we should stop doing 1 week sprints?
If there is none (buy people simply say they would prefer one option), then I assume, it is a preference-based issue. If so, then the next step is to suggest an experiment:
If there are no strong arguments to go one way or the other one then would you agree if we keep the 1 week sprint length for the next 3 weeks and then we go back to this discussion?
And this is how we ended up with 1 week sprint length for the next few sprints.
After this trial period we will surely know more about the pros and cons of 1 week sprints. And if we are not sure what to do we might also switch to 2 weeks sprint by then simply to experiment if longer sprint doesn’t work better for us.
BTW. If there were some objections I would follow the objections resolving pattern but in our case there was no need for this.
By using consent and experiment to solve this issue we avoided useless discussion (with both sides having no good arguments). Also, I believe that in the case of preference-based issues changing X to Y doesn’t really solve the issue but only reverts the discontent structure (meaning: those who were happy are unhappy now and vice versa).
P.S. This situation was yet another example of using consent approach as suggested by sociocracy. You can find more about this topic in this post devoted to hand gestures.