Why don’t teams plan out the scope of sprints well in advance of sprint planning?
I’m often asked a thought-provoking question that has been common in many Scrum Master and Product Owner courses, and I’ve tackled this question a lot in my Scrum Master and Product Owner courses. 🤔
The question: “Why don’t Scrum teams plan out the contents of their Sprints well in advance of Sprint planning?
Volatile Nature of Agile
Understanding Agile is all about embracing change. 🎯
So why have we adopted this approach?
It’s simply the nature of the work we do as Scrum Masters.
The Agile method embraces the volatility, the changeable nature of our work, the environment, and the context we’re working in. When we decide too far in advance, we risk reducing our team’s flexibility.
Change Is Coming
Therefore, we must ask ourselves, “Is this the most important thing we could be working on today?” The emphasis on this all-important question is that it has to relate to work done not yesterday or a week ago or planned for because we know change is coming. 💡
We have to adapt and learn.
In theory, it may sound logical to sit down as a team, look at your backlog, and say, “We can make 40 points. Let’s just count 40 and say that’s a Sprint”.
But here’s where we must remind ourselves why we’ve gone the Agile route.
Teams need to maintain the flexibility to be able to make changes because every so often, that change comes in and when it does, it changes because it’s essential.
Flexibility is the Agile Advantage
It’s not about rejecting foresight. It’s about maintaining the flexibility to make changes as and when needed because when the change comes, it’s usually significant. By fixing our plans far in advance, we risk discarding all we could learn in the interim.
If we start mapping out the next three months, we will eliminate all our benefits of flexing, adapting, and learning. We lose the ability to follow new ideas and changing needs and struggle to implement new and better ways of doing things discovered during retrospectives. 🔄
Adapt to the ‘now’
We must ensure that we’re working on the most important things and satisfying these needs as we see them ‘today.’
As we journey through the Agile process, remember this – it’s okay to change your mind. We should allow ourselves to find new ways of solving problems as we delve into the ‘how’. This adaptability ensures we’re working on the most essential things, satisfying the needs we see today, not yesterday or a month ago.
I urge all Agile teams to keep this in mind: have an idea of what’s coming up in the next Sprint, but accept that in Sprint planning, you might change your mind. This acceptance is at the heart of being Agile.
Join me for more in-depth insights in my Agile and Scrum courses, we can learn to better embrace the core of Agile – adaptation and continuous learning in the ‘now.
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Keywords: Agile Approach, Sprint Planning, Change Management, Work Volatility
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