Rituals

Last post 12:10 pm March 25, 2022
by Thomas Owens
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10:47 am March 25, 2022

Hello Scrum Masters,

I have some questions about the Rituals: Sprint planning, Refinement, Review and Retro. 
We have Sprints of 2 weeks and the Rituals are returning events. My team complains that some are too long (although they are timebox according to the length of the Sprint). Some want to skip, others to combine, others doing less or filling/doing in the Rituals differently. Examples are: to shorten the Review from 1.5 hour to 1 (which is OK), once a month a Retro instead of the end of every Sprint or doing something differently at the Retro (demo?).

  1. Do you have experiences and how do you re-organise those?
  2. Do you ‘replace’ a Retro for another activity? Like a demo? Or improvements actions for next sprint?
  3. Is it acceptable to have 1 Retro after 2 Sprints instead of after each Sprint?
  4. In generally, what would you do?

My team has grown to a mature team that however needs or wants to improve the Rituals because to work ‘more efficiently’.

I look forward to your feedbacks!

Regards, Uyên 

11:07 am March 25, 2022

Unless you have reason to believe in the power of this strange magic, my advice is to abandon your rituals altogether. Refer instead to the Scrum Guide and the events it actually describes, which provide collaborative inspect-and-adapt opportunities for achieving empirical process control.

12:10 pm March 25, 2022

I would recommend against thinking about the Scrum events as "rituals" or "ceremonies". These words tend to invoke images of things that are performed for cultural or historical purposes, often with a prescribed order. The events are times and places for the people involved to come together and achieve specific outcomes and objectives. You aren't going through motions, but working as a team to achieve a goal.

I'd also point out that refinement isn't an event. It's an ongoing activity. There may be times when the team gets together, as a whole or in small groups, to do things, but it's not timeboxed and it's not prescribed as to when it happens with respect to the other events.

Now, to answer your question - the first thing I would want to do is dig into why the team wants to make these changes. Why do they want to take 30 minutes off of the Sprint Review? Why don't they want to hold the Sprint Retrospective after every Sprint? Based on the comment about wanting to "work more efficiently", it seems like the team isn't getting value out of these events. Why is that? Do they understand the purpose behind each one? Are the right people involved? Are the objectives being met? In my experience, when teams want to make fundamental changes to the Scrum events, it's usually because they either don't understand the purpose of the events, they aren't taking advantage of the events to reduce other meetings, or the events are poorly run. I'd start with addressing these.