What are the 5 events in Scrum? Can you name them?
Chances are that you said something like “Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review, Sprint Retrospective, and…. umm…..”
The Sprint is the most commonly overlooked event in Scrum. In fact, many people don’t even realize that it is an event in Scrum. There’s no meeting for “The Sprint”, you see. And yet, the Sprint serves a pivotal role in Scrum by setting the cadence for feedback, inspection and adaptation in Scrum. It really is the heartbeat of the Scrum framework. (2020 Scrum Guide)
The Sprint is a container for all of the other events in Scrum. The Sprint begins with the Sprint Planning event and ends after the Sprint Retrospective. Everything that the Scrum team does happens during a Sprint. Every Sprint the team delivers a done Increment and refines the Product Backlog to be ready for the next Sprint.
Let’s delve deeper into the significance of the Sprint in Scrum and some key considerations for its effective implementation.
The Heartbeat of Scrum: The Sprint doesn’t receive as much attention as the more visible events like Sprint Planning or the Daily Scrum. However, it’s crucial to recognize that the Sprint sets the cadence for all of the other events. The Sprint sets the tone for the other events and determines how frequently we are asking for feedback at the Sprint Review and how frequently the Scrum team is reflecting on how to improve their own processes and Definition of Done.
Tailoring Sprint Length: The time box for the Sprint is one month, which means the Scrum framework requires the duration of the Sprint to be one month or less. The most common duration for the Sprint is two weeks, but many teams have selected a one-week or even a one-day Sprint duration.
The duration of the Sprint should be just long enough to enable the Scrum to deliver a done increment, and no longer. So, the duration of the Sprint really depends on what type of Product the Scrum team is delivering. Are you working in a mainframe environment? Maybe your Sprint duration needs to be a bit longer. Are you a Reporting team? Maybe a shorter duration will work for you. Whatever Sprint length you select, be deliberative and opt for the shorter duration when possible.
A shorter Sprint is better to reduce risk. Many people think that in higher risk environments, they should add a bit more length to the Sprint to reduce risk. In fact, the opposite is true. In a high risk environment, actually a shorter Sprint is better because you are limiting your investment in any particular increment to the length of the Sprint. Think about it. If you aren’t sure that the customer will like what you are delivering, wouldn’t it be better to deliver something smaller and get feedback rather than spending a month delivering something that you aren’t sure they’ll like?
Shorter Sprints facilitate an adaptive approach to development. If you’re unsure about what the customer really wants or whether a particular technology will work, it’s wiser to take smaller, calculated steps. Delivering a small, functional increment allows for rapid feedback and adjustments, reducing the risk of building something that doesn’t meet the actual needs or can’t be implemented as expected.
Consistency is Key. Although Sprint length can be adjusted to suit the Product’s risk profile, it’s crucial to maintain a degree of consistency. Frequently changing the Sprint duration can create confusion and uncertainty. It becomes challenging for the Scrum team to gauge how much work they can realistically deliver in a given time frame, which in turn affects predictability and planning.
Consistency in Sprint length also benefits stakeholders and customers. When they understand that each Sprint lasts a fixed amount of time, they can plan their involvement more effectively. It simplifies expectations and enhances transparency, contributing to a smoother collaboration between the development team and stakeholders.
Only the Product Owner can cancel the Sprint. See our recent article, Emergencies in Scrum.
The Sprint is an essential but often overlooked event in the Scrum framework. It serves as the foundational rhythm that sets the pace for all other Scrum events. When managed effectively, the Sprint can mitigate risk, encourage adaptability, and maintain simplicity in the development process. By recognizing the importance of Sprint length in different contexts, Scrum teams can optimize their approach and deliver value with greater confidence and efficiency in a rapidly changing world.
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