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Is there any flexibility regarding the time of each scrum event?

Last post 09:12 am November 1, 2018 by Eugene M
7 replies
02:36 am October 30, 2018

I am an organizational team leader. 2 of my team members participate in a scrum team. The scrum team is running 2-week sprint and scheduled their scrum planning in Thursday morning in every 2 weeks. The time for their scrum planning conflicts with my scheduled weekly team meeting. It means my 2 team members will either absent from their scrum planning or absent from the weekly team meeting. I understand that it is not good to miss scrum planning but the team meeting is important too. I discussed with the scrum master and would like them shift the scrum planning 1 day earlier or later. However, the scrum master told me that the sprint during has been fixed and the spring planning must be immediately after the previous sprint, so it can't be shifted.

Is this true? I have doubt on this statement. Could anyone give any suggestion to resolve such conflict? Provided that the scrum team was just setup and currently in the first sprint. And I don't want to shift the team meeting because there are 16 members in the team. Other team members are working in other project team. Any change to the team meeting time will easily lead conflict with other project meeting.

03:37 pm October 30, 2018

In Scrum, Sprints run consecutively and without interruption. Sprint Planning ought to be just-in-time and any delay to planning is likely to result in waste. Hence the Scrum Master is essentially correct.

Would the other meeting you describe help Scrum Team members to meet their agreed Sprint Goal, and to deliver an integrated and working product increment? It seems unlikely given that Sprint Planning would not have yet occurred.

How do you see this meeting helping attendees to empirically deliver value in an agile manner? Would it help other agile teams to manage dependencies upon these two team members, for example?

08:49 am October 31, 2018

Is it just me or does this (time conflict) seem like the least of problems one can encounter?

If there is a time conflict, it is up to you (as team leader) and the Scrum Master to address the issue and find ways to bring one of the meeting earlier or later, so that both can be run efficiently and achieve the wanted goals.


10:12 am October 31, 2018

Hi @Ian, thanks to your reply. The other meeting does not directly add value to the working product. The purpose of the other meeting includes passing down organizational information, sharing knowledge/experience within one organizational team (function based). Even though it does not directly add value, it is essentially important to the organization. I understand that any delay to planning result in waste. But I think one-day waste is acceptable to resolve a long term conflict.

Given a fictitious situation, a Scrum team has sprint planning scheduled on every Monday afternoon bi-weekly. Unfortunately, one scrum team member can't work on Monday afternoon because of any reason (e.g. part-time course). What is the best way the Scrum team can do?

1.) Accept this member's absence for every sprint planning.

2.) Remove this team member from the Scrum team and invite another one.

3.) Shift the sprint planning to Tuesday afternoon bi-weekly.

4.) Other suggestion?

10:33 am October 31, 2018

@Eugene M 

I am new to Scrum. I also think that this time conflict issue can be easily resolved by shifting the event a day earlier or later. But the scrum master said it can't be shifted. This statement differs from my understanding about Scrum. That's the reason why I want to clarify here. I also think that it is Scrum Master's responsibility to resolve such conflict.

02:02 pm October 31, 2018

Assuming that the other meeting “does not directly add value to the working product”, as you put it, my advice is therefore to view it as an impediment to be removed.

Specifically, from what you describe, the meeting sounds like an organizational issue which impedes value delivery and bottom-up intelligence.

What can you do to change the priorities so value delivery and bottom-up intelligence actually come to the fore? What sort of organizational change will be required to support that, and will there be executive sponsorship for it?

06:52 am November 1, 2018

@Zhilong Zu: Emerging from the conversation above, I see some issues here that go a bit deeper than just this particular situation.

Be aware that imposing a meeting like this likely means you need to look at the way your organizational culture resonates with the values of Scrum, particularly Respect, and derived from that, Openness, Courage, Focus and Commitment. Imposing a meeting overlapping with the Team's sprint planning diminishes their focus, sends a message that sprint planning (and by extension, applying Scrum) is not really all that important for the organization, that the Dev Team's freedom to self-organize does not have the support it should from the organization. You really have to ask yourself whether or not long-term this will greatly diminish most of the benefits derived from adopting Scrum.

It is the Scrum Master's responsibility to ensure that this conflict is resolved, but does the best way to solve it likely doesn't lie in the direction you point out? The Scrum Master should work with all parties involved, bringing them together in dialogue, explaining the options and what the likely outcomes of each will be. He or she should not impose a solution, either on you, or the Dev Team.

09:12 am November 1, 2018

I am new to Scrum. I also think that this time conflict issue can be easily resolved by shifting the event a day earlier or later. But the scrum master said it can't be shifted. This statement differs from my understanding about Scrum. That's the reason why I want to clarify here. I also think that it is Scrum Master's responsibility to resolve such conflict.

Zhilong, I'm afraid to say it seems the Scrum Master is a bit obtuse. Regardless of the importance of both meetings (sprint planning & weekly team meeting), this is, first and foremost, a time conflict. In fact, it is ONLY a time conflict.

While it is true that sprints have a certain cadence, and there should be no time waste between sprints (a new sprint starts immediately after the previous one ends), the Scrum Master can easily reaccommodate the sprint planning to start, say, 30 minutes earlier (or later) and you can easily reaccomodate to start, say, 30 minutes later (or earlier).

Why make such a big deal out of a trivial matter? 

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