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Agile Events Explicitly Focus on Empiricism

Basic

difficulty

Stage 4

Agile IQ® Level

Sprint Planning

Event

Introduction

Scrum is founded on empiricism and lean thinking. Empiricism asserts that knowledge comes from experience and making decisions based on what is observed. [1] The three pillars of empiricism in Scrum are transparency, inspection and adaption. [2] We must keep this in mind when conducting planning, daily Scrums, reviews and retrospectives.

Sprint Planning

Sprint Planning looks to answer what can be delivered in the next Increment during the upcoming Sprint, and how the work will be done. [3]

Inputs to planning:

  • Product Backlog
  • Product Goal

The inputs must be transparent to the team and understood. It is the role of the Product Owner to ensure this during Sprint Planning.

Outputs of planning (Sprint Backlog):

  • Sprint Goal
  • Product Backlog Items for the Sprint
  • Plan for delivery

The outputs must be transparent to the team with the Product Owner understanding what will be delivered within the Increment. The planning event provides opportunity for inspection and adaptation of work.

Daily Scrum

The purpose of the Daily Scrum is to inspect progress towards the Sprint Goal and adapt the Sprint Backlog as necessary. [1] The Daily Scrum is not a status report meeting but rather an opportunity to re-plan based on progress.

Sprint Review

The purpose of the Sprint Review is to inspect the outcome of the Sprint and determine future adaptations. [1] Work is presented by the team for review by key stakeholders. The review provides an opportunity to reflect upon the Increment towards the Product Goal and adjust accordingly.

Retrospective

The purpose of the Sprint Retrospective is to plan ways to increase quality and effectiveness. [1] The team inspects aspects of delivery (e.g., individuals, interactions, processes, tools) seeking areas for improvement. The team can also inspect previous improvement ideas and the impacts of their implementation.

Consistent Application of Transparency, Inspection and Adaptation

Throughout all of these events we consistently apply the pillars of empiricism relating to the artefacts for that event. It is helpful to remind ourselves of these each time we conduct events.

If we introduce other events to assist with delivery or business operations, we want to continue to apply these pillars.

Things to watch out for

  • Focus or discipline can be lacking. If a team is using Scrum as a framework then the Scrum Master should keep the team focused on the relevant artefacts for a given event.
  • Adaptation should be discussed with the team, and if change is introduced then the change is documented, tracked and measured. Introducing change without rigor can lead to negative impacts to quality or effectiveness.
  • Ensure a Definition of Ready is applied to work introduced to a Sprint Backlog. This is a quality gate to ensure value is derived by the team.

Actions to try

  • The Scrum Master to spend one or two minutes before an event to refresh the purpose of the event and what artefacts should be inspected.
  • The Scrum Master reminds team members at the beginning of the event the purpose and artefacts to be inspected.

References

1. Sutherland, J. & Schwaber, K. (2020) The 2020 Scrum Guide (TM). https://scrumguides.org/scrum-guide.html

2. Doshi, H. (2016) The Three Pillars of Empiricism (Scrum). https://www.scrum.org/resources/blog/three-pillars-empiricism-scrum

3. Hodgson, M. (2020) How do I run Sprint Planning? https://zenexmachina.com/how-do-i-run-sprint-planning/

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