Heartbeat across time zones - timing between sprint events.

Last post 04:23 pm February 17, 2022
by Mario De Caerlé
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05:24 pm February 16, 2022

I just got PSM1 certified, but I can't reasonably implement sprint event timing on my team.  Am I misinterpreting the scrum training, or are there other solutions without being "not scrum"? 

I remember reading multiple times that one iteration starts at the completion of the previous.  No break in between.  Not on the following Monday.  It looks like the scrum guide itself is a bit more forgiving in its adherence to strict timing. 

Due to the time of each meeting and an international, we're not maintaining the "heartbeat".  We typically have a 3-4 hour window to get the scrum team together.  We're even doing things slightly out of order due to stakeholders' scheduling. 

 

At the end of each sprint (Friday) we have sprint retrospectives following the daily scrum.

The following Monday we have sprint planning after the daily scrum.

Tuesday we have a sprint review with stakeholders.

07:07 pm February 16, 2022

It's highly unlikely that you can't implement the ordering of events as described in the Scrum Guide. It's far more likely that the key stakeholders are unwilling to make the broader changes necessary to support the teams.

The ordering of events - Sprint Review, Sprint Retrospective, Sprint Planning - is key to how the team adapts to a changing environment. The Sprint Review is the prescribed opportunity for the Scrum Team and the key stakeholders to come together and understand progress and changes in each others' environments, coming to a shared understanding of reality and updating the Product Backlog to reflect that reality. Once the team and key stakeholders are aligned, the team can reflect on their ways of working and optimize how they work to deliver value to the stakeholders. With this new understanding of reality and optimized way of working, the team can plan their next Sprint.

Having the events in another order, like Sprint Retrospective followed by Sprint Planning followed by the Sprint Review does not put the team in a position to be successful. How can you hold a valuable retrospective unless you get feedback on the product and team's progress from key stakeholders? How can you plan without updating the Product Backlog based on feedback and updated goals? Any feedback and changes to the Product Backlog will be delayed if you hold events in the order that you describe.

Work with the key stakeholders to help them understand the purpose of each Scrum event and how it supports the team's journey toward agility. It may also be beneficial to make sure that they understand the value in agility, especially how the teams can be more responsive to changes in the stakeholders' environment. This falls squarely into the responsibilities and accountabilities of the Scrum Master.

I'd also say that the "no break between Sprints" concept is often misunderstood. If you hold your Sprint Review on a Friday morning and your Sprint Retrospective in the afternoon and there aren't enough working hours to hold your Sprint Planning, it should be on Monday. The purpose of the continuous Sprints is to avoid situations where the team holds a Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective and then waits days for the next Sprint Planning, where those days may be filled with overhead work or work outside of a Sprint context. Any discussion of scheduling needs to consider how long the events are and ensuring that the team is working at a sustainable pace, avoiding exhaustion and burnout.

07:54 pm February 16, 2022

I am going add to @Thomas Owens' excellent response that no where in the Scrum Guide does it state anything about working hours.  Theoretically the next Sprint starts when the previous ends.  Reality means the next Sprint starts in the immediate working hours of the team after the previous Sprint ends during the working hours of the team. 

07:58 pm February 16, 2022

We're even doing things slightly out of order due to stakeholders' scheduling.

Why do stakeholders call the shots on how the team implements its own Scrum process?

Scrum is very good at exposing constraints quickly. The challenge often lies in interpreting the things we see with this new transparency, and the problem you describe is rather unlikely to be one of timing.

09:40 pm February 16, 2022

Why do stakeholders call the shots on how the team implements its own Scrum process?

Because the scrum guide says a sprint review is when "...The Scrum Team presents the results of their work to key stakeholders".  That's a bit difficult to do without them.

Theoretically the next Sprint starts when the previous ends. 

Retrospectives mark the end of a sprint, Sprint planning marks the beginning of the next.  I understand that they should be done as close to each other as possible, but the rigidity of the guidance not to do it the next (business) day seems  severe.  I like @Thomas Owen's explanation/interpretation.

I'll see what I can do about the ordering, but its been difficult to communicate with the external stakeholders.  So far their feedback hasn't impacted the current sprint goal; just helps to update the backlog.

11:29 pm February 16, 2022

Because the scrum guide says a sprint review is when "...The Scrum Team presents the results of their work to key stakeholders".  That's a bit difficult to do without them.

I'd suggest that's precisely the reason why they ought to be there, instead of changing Scrum to suit them. It isn't a matter of timing. There's an organizational gravity to be overcome, and the results that are to be obtained from implementing Scrum depend on it.

04:23 pm February 17, 2022

Even if you can't have the Stakeholders at any other time that one specific moment, you can organize your team around that availability. Sprints do not need to be Monday - Friday, you can do the Review whenever the Stakeholders are available (if that is stable!), and have Retrospective and Planning with that as guide.