Setting a Sustainable Pace

We’re coming off quite the late spring heat wave here in the 1000 Islands. We had a few consecutive days of record or near record heat. Not that long ago we had near record *low* levels of precipitations. Anytime we hear about records in the weather – high or low, temperature or precipitation, it is fair to assume that there is someone who is negatively impacted by those changes.


The same is true of records and the impact of highs and lows within teams whether talking capacity or velocity. Whether periods of high high pressure and demand or periods of low demand or community need that result in furloughs or layoffs, there is always someone who is negatively impacted. Both the highs and lows point to someone who will be unhappy, and more importantly an unsustainable pace. 


In thinking about my role as the Chief Product Owner for DH Leonard Consulting and my role of Product Owner for Agile in Nonprofits, I will be honest, I often feel pressured to protect the teams as best I can by predicting highs and lows. I do my best to interpret and project based on conversations with our customers and stakeholders, looking at government grant forecasts, and other techniques. What I’m trying to do, whether always in my control or not, is to avoid the highs and lows so as to not put undue pressure on the team in a way that would cause or put pressure on anyone to conduct any heroic efforts.


Yet the weight of the sustainable pace conversation does not fall only on the Product Owner’s shoulders. It also falls to the Scrum Master and team members. During the Daily Scrum and during Scrum Planning, the team members and the Scrum Master need to listen to each other’s verbal cues and see our nonverbal cues. Team members and Scrum Masters need to look for signs of heroic efforts amongst their peers and call attention to the individual’s action and ask how to help.


One of the things that one of our team’s has found very helpful is to have a visual way to look ahead at team capacity for the next few Sprints so that there is a better visual of upcoming high or low capacity events that should be accounted for in planned velocity so as to prevent heroic efforts. Nothing fancy. Literally a green, yellow, red capacity code next to each Sprint for each team member.


I’m curious to know – how do you foster a focus on sustainable pace within your team(s)? I’d love to hear! Comment below and let me know.



Interested in professional development? Our team offers trainings every month! These include 2-hour webinars, half, full, and multi-day sessions, along with a handful of on-demand webinars. We also offer full credential courses including Scrum Master and Product Owner. 

Need a custom training for your organization to introduce Scrum or help credential your whole team? We offer private trainings as well. Learn more about the professional development we offer here.