Tales of the Bizarro Scrum – Extending the Sprint

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Scrum Master: “Team, it looks like these 3 stories that we already started on are almost done. I’m going to add an extra 2 days to this Sprint so that we can finish them.”

An important concept in Scrum is timeboxing. All events in Scrum are timeboxed, from the Sprint itself, to Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective. But it’s not timeboxing for the sake of timeboxing.

A key benefit of timeboxing is continuous improvement via regular inspect and adapt cycles. That is, try to accomplish a goal within a set time limit and then see how that went at the end of the timebox. What was accomplished? What was missed? What needs to improve? How?

Adding more time is an easy answer. It does not require any effort and does not address working effectively. If we keep doing it, we will never improve. The harder task is how can we do better within the given timebox? How can we break out our stories into smaller more manageable items? What automation do we need to add to make painful manual steps easier? Etc. These improvements will not be considered if we just keep adding more time. It is essential to stop when the timebox is over, go with what we have, and then figure out how to improve for the next iteration. Respect the timebox!