Scrum Rules: Your Scrum Master Can Enforce Time-Boxes Within the Team

August 21, 2020
4 minute read

The responsibility of time-boxing (or limiting the amount of time spent) in a Scrum meeting is given to the Scrum Master. He maintains a time-box so that the Scrum Team will become more and more effective in how they use the time to its full purpose.

We, as human beings, thrive in situations where we have simple constraints and focused goals – time-boxing of Scrum meetings fits this perfectly. If a Scrum Planning meeting, for example, is not time-boxed it can become disconnected from the goal of the Scrum Team. Time-boxing also helps Team Members to be engaged, since they have a limited amount of time to achieve the goal of the meeting – such as a Sprint Goal that is generated from the Sprint Planning meeting.

Time boxing requires a very high level of awareness of the passage of time as well as the courage (a Scrum value) to be firm with other people about the limits of a time boxed meeting. There are a few key pointers that will help a Scrum Master do a good job with time boxing meetings. First, at the start of the meeting it is necessary to tell all the participants the fact that the meeting is time boxed, that as Scrum Master it is your job to enforce the time box, and that it does not matter if the team is “finished” the meeting. Of course, the Scrum Master may have to say more to the team about the reasons for time boxing. As the meeting progresses, it is often a good practice to remind the team of the passage of time. Depending on the length of the meeting, this could be every 15 minutes or every half hour. This creates awareness in the team and a sense of focus and urgency. Finally, the use of a bell (preferably one that is pleasant-sounding) at the end of the time box can be a great way to interrupt the team and announce the end of the meeting. The Scrum Master should, as a final statement if the team was mid-discussion, assure the team that this abrupt ending is acceptable in Scrum and that in future meetings, the team will get better at completing their work within the given time box.

All events are time-boxed events, such that every event has a maximum duration….

The Scrum Master teaches the Scrum Team to keep [Sprint Planning] within the time-box….

The Scrum Master teaches the Development Team to keep the Daily Scrum within the 15-minute time-box….

The Scrum Master teaches all to keep [Sprint Review] within the time-box….

The Scrum Master teaches all to keep [the Sprint Retrospective] within the time-box.

— The Scrum Guide

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Bruce Power
Capital One
Equitable Life of Canada
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