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PM Believer: Sprint Zero Hero

I am a believer in the power of project management.

As a professional project manager for nearly twenty years, I have witnessed project success drive business results. I have also proven that project management can change lives and help achieve personal transformation. Now I am sharing some practical tips and techniques that you can use to help achieve your own personal goals, live your best life and become a PM Believer.

Living the Agile Life

This week I am temporarily returning to tips inspired by the “Agile” approach to project delivery. Agile is an alternative approach to delivering projects that are focused on delivering project value more quickly and more frequently with a much smaller project management process footprint. Agile is growing in popularity and includes many techniques that can help us achieve our personal goal projects.

Sprint Zero Hero

Agile projects are delivered through an iterative series of “sprints” which are often two-week efforts by the team (see Living the Agile Life). Each of these sprints is intended to deliver a usable portion of the overall end product and they continue until the product is finished (and often well beyond).

As efficient as the sprint structure is, the team is often not ready to immediately deliver value in the first sprint. Before sprints can begin delivering the product, there usually needs to be some organization and foundational work done by the team. During this important organizing time, no direct value is delivered so the results of these sprints will skew the team’s overall productivity metrics if they are counted.

The solution is something often referred to as “sprint zero.” This is a sprint that gets accounted for in the overall project schedule but is not expected to deliver any of the measured value to the product.

While sprint zero sounds like an administrative detail used in business projects, the concept can apply to your personal goals as well.

At its most fundamental level, sprint zero is simply a time in the project where time is dedicated to important work other than the specific goal. This is a concept that we each can apply to our goals. We simply have to decide to dedicate a small amount of time to something other than our goal but still view this time as important, not a waste.

I am about to insert a sprint zero (of sorts) into all of my goals starting next week.

Starting next Friday, I am going to take a break for a little while and enjoy some time off. During this time, I won’t be publishing any blogs, working with any clients, and potentially not even posting to social media. That means that the Operation Melt “product” won’t be making any progress during this time. But I will still be investing time in things that are important to me.

During my sprint zero, I will be investing in my rest and recovery time. I will also use this time to learn new things from reading and podcasts. Finally, I will be investing some time in strategic planning and foundational work for growing Operation Melt.

Despite not delivering the direct business value that Agile is so focused on, sprint zero is a worthwhile investment of time. By investing in this non-value-add sprint, the project team is positioned for future success. While sprint zero is usually placed at the beginning of a project, there are many times in a project where it can be beneficial to temporarily focus on something other than the ultimate product. Be ready to insert a “sprint zero” into your project any time you want to invest some time in something else that is important to you… like time off!

Are you ready to be a PM Believer?

Agile projects are made up of sprints, each one delivers an incremental portion of the overall value of the end product. Well, maybe not every sprint delivers value. Sometimes Agile teams invest some of their time in organizing for success. Your personal goals can do this too and it doesn’t have to be reserved for the beginning of the project.

How have you applied project management for your personal success? Tell me about it at and make sure to join my email list to have updates delivered to your inbox weekly.

Make sure to help your friends achieve their goals by sharing this post on your social network and by following me on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.

Want to know more about how I changed my life with project management? Pick up your copy of my book Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds In Under a Year.

About Operation Melt

Operation Melt started as a blog to share my personal transformation and weight loss story. After achieving success with that goal, Operation Melt has evolved into a platform to help inspire, motivate and equip people to achieve their own personal and professional goals so they can live their best lives. My vision is to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.

Published inPM Believer

Disclaimer: The Operation Melt website and blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this website is intended for general consumer understanding and entertainment only. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. As health and nutrition research continuously evolves, we do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of any information presented on this website.

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