The last session I was in was about Pomodoro (NB : a free pdf about Pomodoro is available on this website – I didn’t read it yet though).
Well, simply put, the idea is to use a timer and then work being focused until it rings. Then one should reconsider whether he’s still making what the best he can do. For example, if stuck on something, maybe it is best to skip it for now. Originally, it’s a “one man” stuff, with time between each timer wake up of 25 minutes, and then a break of 5 minutes. The aim is to keep control on the time flow.
Olivier Albiez, another guy from Smartesting, told us a bit more on how they adapted it : they use as a team tool. In fact, when they decide to use it, it’s with a team of people all working on the same stuff. Thus, they inform the rest of the world that they won’t be available for the Pomodoro time.
Then, they start the timer (set on 55 minutes) and work as focused as they can (normally no email or phone call during it). When the timer yells, each guy says where he thought he would be and where he is. If someone is stuck, then the team decides what to do. It could be simple suggestions, pair programming shift or even a full blown meeting if needed.
However, they introduced a fancy rule : if for some reason the same sprint’s issue is stuck three times in a row, they just skip it. Indeed, estimation was obviously wrong and they have, hopefully, better to do. The main idea is to avoid this “I’m nearly done” sentence we’ve all heard (and I must admit I’ve often said it lol), which ends with 3 extra days of unplanned work. With this rule, the unplanned work is of half a day at max.
Just to provide a complete picture of their version of Pomodoro, each team member has the right to interrupt any other team member during the pomodoro. Indeed, they work all on the same stuff. However, not to spoil one’s efficiency, the interrupted guy can say “wait for the end of this pomodoro”, and then keep going.
I don’t know how you feel about Pomodoro (and my poor introduction to it), but I feel quite eager to test in real life :)