January 23, 2020
Apply limits to the Guardian Squad members to strike a good balance between prioritizing missions and keeping maintenance at pace.
What makes a good size for a Guardian Squad? This guide proposes fixed boundaries for the prople capacity of the Guardian Squad:
Set a minimum size of 4 people: Less than 4 people can hardly make it a team being able to tackle problems of various areas in order to protect the Hero Squads from fullfilling their Missions.
Set a maximum size of 6 people: More than 6 people, move the focus to maintenance mode. You need the extra capacity to be allocated to Hero Missions, either Product or Engineering.
So how can this work in practice? Let's assume the following setup:
Let's say that the Product Squad has figured out 5 new missions they would like to carry out during the next cycle.
By enforcing the Guardian limit, you know that you have
16 - 4 = 12 engineers max, that can join Hero Missions.
Can 12 people handle 5 missions within a cycle? If you assume that you need at least 3 engineers per mission, then the math shows that you can only carry out 4 mission max during that cycle.
What is the least important mission the Product Squad can remove? What is the most impactful? The lower limit, puts Product in the thought process to prioritize better and pick their battles.
Let's assume that the Product Squad was able to groom only 2 new mission for the next cycle. Those two missions are expected to need 3 engineers per mission to carry out. So, Product needs 6 engineers for that cycle. By enforcing the max limit of 6 people per Guardian Squad, it means that
16 - 6 - 6 = 4 engineers are without assignments, as they that are not needed in Product Missions and cannot be in the Guardian Squad as well.
Those 4 people can either be allocated to the Product Missions as extra capacity to move faster, or Engineering can add "Engineering Missions" to the cycle to tackle technical debt, documentation or other technical tasks, outside the Product scope.