This visual depicts the best analogy for me of what a sprint or iteration is. It's vessel full of your teams capacity.
Some teams may be larger in size and therefore have a larger cup. Others may be smaller, or less mature and their capacity is therefore smaller.
If you keep pouring more things inside that cup, either one of two things should happen;
1. You recognise that it's an exceptional response to a pragmatic situation - Sometimes we do need to rally around to finish something important to help deliver great products to our customers. This should not be the norm.
2. If something comes in.. Something gets pushed out / de-prioritised. Simple.
If we keep pouring more work onto our people that extends beyond their capacity, they will burn out. Now, more than ever.
- Ensure your sprint backlogs are prioritised in such a way that you know the highest and least important item. The least important ones are the ones that can slip in the event something higher priority comes in
- Lead by example - If you're a leader, and you're working long hours, involved in every meeting and sending emails & comms at all hours of the day. You're unfortunately part of the problem.. You're reinforcing that this behaviour is ok, and can create an expectation that others should follow.
- Promote sustainable flow - Teams should, after 4-5 iterations discover what their average velocity or throughput is. Enable them to own this and let them know it's ok to push back when something is too much. This is a key principle of the agile manifesto in promoting sustainability in everything.
What are your tips for dealing with this scenario?