Episodic Flow

Ward's 1995 paper, Episodes presents a Pattern Language for software development that became the foundation for Extreme Programming. In this paper he introduces the concept of "Episodes":

>We are particularly interested in the sequence of mental states that lead to important decisions. We call the sequence an episode. > An episode builds toward a climax where the decision is made. Before the decision, we find facts, share opinions, build concentration and generally prepare for an event that cannot be known in advance. > After the climax, the decision is known, but the episode continues. In the tail of an episode we act on our decision, promulgate it, follow it through to its consequences. > We also leave a trace of the episode behind in its products. It is from this trace that we must often pick up the pieces of thought in some future episode. > source

Episodes have a different character than Sprints. Sprints have a defined period (called a Timebox) in which a team commits to deliver components of a solutions (called Stories) to others.

While the core value of the sprint is primarily externally defined, the core value of these episodes appear to be internally defined, as an essential part of the learning journey of the team. The "climax" of this journey is not the end-point where the work product is shared or released, but when the team gains critical insight that allows for a new solution to be defined. The actual development of the work product for others is an epilogue to the epiphany of this insight.

Each episode, then, appears to have the characteristics of a Hero's Journey, but done as a team, not individually.

>A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man. > wikipedia

_Documenting and sharing these trace "boons" from these "mysterious adventures" is essential for an organization and, arguably, critical to unlocking the full potential of Agile_.