5 min on Scrum | Sprint Planning 1

Running a Sprint Planning Meeting 1 is more simple than you might think.

Let us first discuss what you do not do:

  1. You do not – resize the backlog items
  2. You do not – estimate tasks

Most Scrum Teams believe they should base their commitments after Sprint Planning 1 on the “Estimates” for the backlog items.  Nothing is more wrong than this.  I know why we did this in the past, I made the same mistake.  We simply did not understand that the purpose of this meeting = Get a very clear understanding about what to deliver … IN DETAIL!

The purpose of this meeting was and is to really understand what the End-User wants and it is to give the product development team a clear picture of what they have to deliver.

What you do in a Sprint Planning 1:

1. Start with the first Backlog Item.
2. Understand the Backlog Item by understanding the requirements of this backlog item.
3. Find the user acceptance tests.
4. Find the acceptance criteria..
5. Find the aspects (performance, stability, …)
6. Figure out what is the level of done for this Sprint.
7. Get a clear picture about every backlog item.
8. Draw pictures about what needs to be delivered (Flow charts, UML diagrams, Scribbles, Screen Designs, …)
9. Go back to step 1 – take the next backlog item.

Attention: If you as a ScrumMaster have the feeling that the team might have enough backlog items, do a  process check. Ask them if they can quickly answer the following question, only as a rough guess:

“Can we do the first backlog item in this Sprint? If the answer is “Yes” keep asking till the last backlog item you have analyzed so far.”

  • Next – Do a break.
  • After the break – start with the process above for the next backlog item.
  • End of this Process: Stop 20 min before the end of the Sprint Planning 1.
  • Ask again – this time more seriously:
  • Can you do the first backlog item, …, the second, …?
  • Stop if they do not believe they can do any more backlog items.
  • Now – a very important step: Send out the Product Owner. They really have to go!

Ask the team, after he has left the room:

“Very seriously – Is this the list you believe you can do?”

Hopefully they now hold a short discussion to find out what they really think they can do.  Most of the time, they will use this opportunity to clarify outstanding questions themselves, or they will start helping each other to see, what they can do and what they can not do. You should now have a brief discussion between the team members.

Communicate the answer to the product owner and end-users. NO DISCUSSION ALLOWED!

The Team decides what they can do, they tell all the others what they want to do.

The reason for this is: We do want to get rid of any attempt to push the team to deliver more than they think they can.

Try it! It works! You will get a more productive, more motiviated and more succesful team than you might think possible.


3 responses to “5 min on Scrum | Sprint Planning 1

  1. Nice post.

    If you ask the team “Can we do the first backlog item in this Sprint?”, won’t the team estimate the tasks – at least implicitly?


  2. Sure – the first time they will run this way. It fully depends on the ScrumMaster. If he feels sure that approach works and if he can communicate it is about intuition than it works. If done it, and it is fantastic!!!

  3. Pingback: Sprint Planning 1 and 2 with more than 100 people « Scrum 4 You

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