Why do I want to have the commitement after Sprint Planning 1?

Question: How can a team choose the right architecture, the right framework and the right way to build it?

Answer: By fulfilling a commitment!

Reading “Emergent Design” by Scott L. Bain, I found an interesting statement: “Professionals know that there are always a number of ways of solving any given problem, and they make a decision based on the cost versus benefit, or return on investment.” (p. 67)

Today I was asked the standard question #Q4711: Why shall the team commit themselves to a Sprint Goal, if they do create the technical design only after in Sprint planning 2? How can we know we will meet the goal, when we do the task break down only in the meeting later.

And suddenly – after 6 years of repeating the default answer #A4711: “It makes sense because you need to know what you shall consider in Sprint planning 2. You need to know how much you need to look at” – I had an insight:

You must develop a solution that fulfills your commitment that is doable in the time you have!

Your commitment is something that does not only bind you to the amount of functionality you will need to develop. It does also constrain your space of solution.

The commitment is the border you need to enable collaboration and self-organization. The commitment means much more than: “We want to build it!” It means: “We will develop everything we committed ourselves to, given the  time we have, given the resources we have, given the skills and abilities we have and given the information about the features we have!”

Consequense: A team shall give its commitment always after Sprint Planning 1!


3 responses to “Why do I want to have the commitement after Sprint Planning 1?

  1. We’ve traditionally committed only after planning 2 as we then know more about the solution and the commitment is more accurate.

    I understand that there is then a tendency to explode the solution and possibly do something that is not required for the feature, which commitment at the end of planning 1 will resolve.

    My question then is about quality. Would there not be a tendency for teams to cut corners on the solution? “Oops, we committed to this feature, and to do it properly (with quality – according to our definition of done) we need to do ‘X’, but we only have time to do ‘Y’, therefore we’ll only do ‘Y’ because of our commitment.

    Either that or the team fails in its commitment – which is BAD for everyone.

  2. Hi, very good question. Then you need to discuss this with the team. Cut in quality is NOT an option. Reducing functionality, or better: find a robust solution within the BOX.
    Self -Organization needs “a container” (as Mike Cohn, Scrum Gathering, Orlando, has phrased it.)
    The Sprint is a container in which the team will find a solution.

  3. If the product owner says: “You cannot reduce functionality (only do Y), because I want X” and cutting quality is not an option, and there simply is no other feasible solution, then a team will have to ‘change their commitment?’

    If its transparency that we are after, then if the team is honest with themselves, it makes sense to go back to the PO and say, “We know we committed to this, but after careful consideration and planning, we cannot provide you will the solution you require to quality, in the given time, therefore you have to change your solution, or we need more time.”

    Considering this scenario then, how valuable, accuarate and binding is the commitment.

    My perception is now: A team must try everything they can to deliver on the commitment to quality and time, but they realise they simply cannot after planning 2, then this can be reviewed and communicated to the PO.

    Would you agree?

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