Scrum Rules: The Scope of Work Is Never Expanded Mid-Sprint

June 15, 2020
3 minute read

The Scrum Team plans their work in the Sprint Planning meeting and that planned scope (Product Backlog Items) is meant to be respected… it is a commitment by the team.

In exchange for that commitment, the rest of the organization commits to leaving the team alone to focus on its work. Focus and commitment are both important values of Scrum. Any interruption to any individual Team Member except the Scrum Master and Product Owner is considered a cause for relieving the Team of its commitment. This rule of Scrum is designed to put pressure on the organization to leave the team to focus on the most valuable work. If the organization allows interruptions to the team’s work during the Sprint, then the team will not meet its commitments and this will diminish trust between the team and its stakeholders. That lack of trust will lead to onerous control mechanisms that reduce the team’s ability to self-organize which, in turn, will prevent the team from becoming a high-performance team.

A Scrum Team must choose either to resolve the root cause(s) of interruptions or to accommodate the organizational dysfunction somehow. Correcting the root causes is possible by following Scrum rules strictly: “if it isn’t part of the team’s work for a Sprint, then it shouldn’t be done”. This strategy, and others which are less-effective (though perhaps more pragmatic in some circumstances) are discussed in depth here – Seven Options for Handling Interruptions in Scrum.

No changes are made that would endanger the Sprint Goal…. As the Development Team works, it keeps the Sprint Goal in mind. In order to satisfy the Sprint Goal, it implements the functionality and technology. If the work turns out to be different than the Development Team expected, they collaborate with the Product Owner to negotiate the scope of Sprint Backlog within the Sprint.

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Bruce Power
Capital One
Equitable Life of Canada
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