Sprint Plans are worthless, but Sprint Planning is everything
via Scrum.org Blog by Daria Bagina
Dwight D. Eisenhower, the World War II leader, and U.S. President, wrote: “[…] plans are of no particular value, but […] planning is indispensable”.
It’s a powerful phrase that aligns all so well with Scrum. Contrary to a myth that there is no planning in Scrum, planning is actually everything: we plan our work not only in Sprint Planning but also every day at Daily Scrum.
However, it is the plans that we make that are less important: we use them to guide our decisions initially, but we do not stick to them if it doesn’t make sense. Daily Scrum is there to make sure we replan at least once every 24 hours.
So to continue this analogy, I’d like to talk about a common myth that gets brilliant teams stuck in their Sprint Planning feeling overwhelmed.
Myth: You have to plan the whole Sprint in Sprint Planning
The Scrum Guide says: “The work to be performed in the Sprint is planned at the Sprint Planning”
Many teams use Sprint Planning to plan their tasks in detail from start to finish: who will work on what and how much time each task is most likely to take.
This often turns the Planning session into a painful boring meeting where people create to-do lists for each person on the team. Because those lists are quite detailed it usually takes all the team’s energy and plenty of time to do.
I see it all the time: teams try to fill in their Sprint Backlog for the whole Sprint with work, taking items from the Product Backlog and breaking them up.
And, unfortunately, it usually never turns out the way it was expected according to plans. I think this is easily the most frustrating part: when you realize that all that time spent sitting in a room creating a detailed plan was wasted when new information comes up.
The problem lies not in the act of planning itself, but in the way we do it. As in the quote I mentioned above, remember that plans are worthless, but planning is everything.