Scrum – Planning. It’s Important. And misunderstood. YOU HAVE TO PLAN!

Scrum - Planning.  It's Important.  And misunderstood.  YOU HAVE TO PLAN! -- -- Cartoon -- January 11, 2012

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I hope you enjoyed last weeks posting and are looking forward to learning something new this week with me.  This is an important concept — we learn together (thank you!).  Please post comments below or tweet about this (or whatever other social media thing you use today!).

One of the big problems I see people talking about (and talking and talking — NOT DOING) is the concept of planning in Scrum.

Bottom line.  Instead of talking about it (and becoming stuck in analysis paralysis and NOT DELIVERING), do it.

How much time?

Enough to get started.

Really.  Get started on Delivering Working Software.

The original posting for this comic strip was about 2.5 years ago and um… wow… it was pretty politically incorrect.  Oh well… Blogs are timeless (smile).  That original posting talked about the rules for planning poker, about being on Fantasy Island (you may or may not be old enough to remember that show — google it), and quickly devolved into possible sexual innuendo.  Oops.  Or you are welcome (smile).  You can take a look at the original posting here.

So what really is “enough” to get started?

When you look at Scrum, there are so many opportunities to plan.  And execute.  And Deliver.

Remember the reason for using Scrum — DELIVER something of value to your customer and end users.  Reduce Risk.  Whatever.  Deliver.  Inspect and adapt.  Really. Hmm… Seems like I may be over using the words DELIVER and REALLY.  Wonder Why?  It needs repeating.  Really (smile).

You can do long range Release planning at the Product Backlog level.

You can do short term Sprint Planning at the Sprint Backlog level.

You can do Daily Planning and adjusting at the Daily Standup level.

You can track all this planning on different Burn Down Charts.

Plan plan plan.

Bla bla bla.

What does your customer really want?




You can get stuck PLANNING for a long time.


Yeah… you still need to PLAN in Scrum.

But what is REALLY important to your end users and customers.

Do they really care about the plan?

Hmmm… not if you keep missing deadlines and deliveries.  Plans then become a CYA (cover-your-ass) thing that opens the gulf of distrust even more between the team, the customers, and other stake holders.  Traditional Project Managers then use it to beat people over the head about missing dates.  You know the cycle.


Stop it.

Plan enough.

This is one of the *tough* conversations you need to have with your stakeholders at all different levels.

I can promise you (from experience) — these conversations SUCK at the beginning.  Mostly because a traditional Project Manager has been making excuses for the team about missing dates (and using the Project Manager Whammy Stick to do strange things to the team).

As a ScrumMaster though — remember — who is REALLY responsible for delivering on a Scrum Team?

The Team.

Yeah, as a Scrum Master you are responsible for facilitating the process (or framework or whatever you want to call Scrum) AND making sure the Scrum Team understands their roles.  Oh… and also working with the Product Owner.  And Oh… the outside Stakeholders.  Welcome to reality.

This is real world stuff.

So how can you keep it from sucking?

Deliver.  Team — do you hear this? DELIVER.

And guess what… once you are delivering on your commitments the conversations shift to AWESOMEness.  Really.  This is not just my dream fantasy world.  It happens.  Daily.

It will suck wind at the beginning.





Inspect and adapt.

That’s enough planning in Scrum.  Yes… DO IT.



Scrum is not a Silver Bullet.

Delivering builds confidence.

Try it.



  1. Mike, I loved this succinct message! So many of us make this harder than it should be. Thanks for the potent distillation. You are right, Delivering DOES increase confidence, (team, PO & stakeholders). It is intoxicating!

  2. The image at the top is really funny. I like how both the chick and the pig are there? And what’s with the snake?

  3. In reply to Mike Vizdos @sheaver what are your thoughts on this?

    @mvizdos Totally agree – Planning in any type of project should be an iterative process. The trick for a skilled project leader/manager is getting the team to a point beyond ‘jumping right in to coding’ without running into the ‘analysis paralysis’ you mentioned.

    You must be able to articulate the need for planning while still convincing the team that it will not be a lengthy, drawn out and laborious task.

    Just set the context, expectations, high level requirements and get on with it. On a number of occasions I’ve used the following from Alice in Wonderland to try and help visualize the need to at least set some direction…

    Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
    The Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to
    Alice: I don’t much care where.
    The Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
    Alice: …so long as I get somewhere.
    The Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.

  4. Shea,

    I appreciate the comment and like the Alice in Wonderland visualization.

    Thank you!

    - mike


  1. [...] January 11,2012 — An updated blog posting about this comic strip is located at:…] Thanks as usual for coming back this week and helping me spread the word about this [...]

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