We considered how stress and self-discipline result in growth and strength, whether that is physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. However, an important corollary of this is that intervals of rest are needed so that we are able to recover stronger instead of ending up progressively worn down.
From nature and our own experience we can see that this rest needs to happen on several cycles. There is a daily rest (1/3 of our time is spent sleeping), a wise principle of weekly rest (one day out of seven), and a yearly rest (winter, vacations). We could even consider the wisdom of longer cycles of rest (e.g., taking sabbatical every 7 to 11 years as many universities practice for their faculty, and as Intel has done).
These principles apply not only to organic life but also to organizations. While agile principles and techniques do increase team efficiency and productivity, it is a mistake to think that agile’s goal is continuous apparent productivity. There are a number of shatterings of continuous apparent productivity that are necessary to healthy agile product development. It is important to brainstorm, learn, conduct retrospectives, take time to refactor, experiment and evaluate alternatives . . . and also to rest. Paradoxically, all of these ways of taking time to slow down often help to improve your team’s long-term productivity.
Obviously our individual daily, weekly, and annual cycles of rest help with the health of our agile team. But the team itself should also be engaging in rest. There are many possibilities here, including team outings and shared meals, team training, and planning for gap sprints or gap weeks to focus on lighthearted or experimental work (what if I rewrote this in Clojure, Haskell, or Racket). In keeping with the spirit of agile, the team should evaluate its own need for rest and plan appropriate kinds of rest.
Crossposted to I gotta have my orange juice.