Teams that Finish Early Accelerate Faster

“Teams that Finish Early Accelerate Faster” is a Scrum pattern that suggests taking less work into a Sprint and aiming for a less ambitious Sprint Goal. This approach enables teams to complete their work early, think more clearly about their tasks, remove impediments, pull forward backlog items from the next Sprint, develop a winning attitude, and increase their velocity over time.

Why is this pattern important?

The pattern is important because it addresses the common issue of teams taking on too much work and failing to achieve their Sprint Goals. By adopting this pattern, teams can avoid feeling overburdened and demoralized. Moreover, they will have more time to focus on reducing technical debt, sharpening their skills, and improving their work processes. This pattern ultimately contributes to a healthier, more sustainable work pace and higher team performance.

How do you use the pattern?

To use the “Teams that Finish Early Accelerate Faster” pattern, follow these steps:

a. Estimate the work for the upcoming Sprint using Yesterday’s Weather as a guideline.

b. Aim for a less ambitious Sprint Goal than the previous Sprint, ensuring that the level of ambition is not proportional to the volume, cost, or duration of the work.

c. Implement the Interrupt Buffer Pattern to systematically address any interruptions that could prevent early completion of the Sprint Goal.

d. If the Sprint Goal is completed early, pull forward backlog items from the next Sprint, which will increase the team’s velocity for future Sprints.

e. During the Sprint Retrospective, evaluate your team’s metrics and Sprint outcomes and identify a Kaizen experiment to help boost your team’s performance in the next Sprint.

f. Place the identified kaizen improvements in the Sprint Backlog for the next Sprint as a top priority, with acceptance tests.

Final thoughts

The “Teams that Finish Early Accelerate Faster” pattern encourages a less ambitious Sprint Goal to prevent teams from becoming overburdened and failing to achieve their goals. By completing work early and focusing on continuous improvement, teams can increase their velocity, improve their work processes, and achieve better overall performance. Embracing this pattern leads to a more sustainable pace and greater success in Scrum projects.


“Teams that finish early accelerate faster.”

Jeffrey Liker. The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World’s Greatest Manufacturer. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004, Figure 10-1.

Jeff Sutherland and Igor Altman. “Take No Prisoners: How a Venture Capital Group Does Scrum.” In Proceedings of Agile 2009, Chicago, 2009.

Jeff Sutherland, Neil Harrison and Joel Riddle. “Teams That Finish Early Accelerate Faster: A Pattern Language for High Performing Scrum Teams.ˮ In 47th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, 2014, pp. 4722-4728.



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