Sprints are the heartbeat of Scrum, where ideas are turned into value. A Sprint is a timebox of one month or less, during which a Done Increment is created that meets the Definition of Done and achieves the Sprint Goal.

Sprints contain the other Scrum events and the work to create the Increment. The Sprint is a container event for the other events and work.

A Sprint begins with Sprint Planning event and ends with the Sprint Review & Sprint Retrospective events. The Daily Scrum event is held each day during the Sprint.

A Sprint should be short enough to allow the Scrum Team to maintain focus but long enough to deliver an Increment that meets the Definition of Done. If a Sprint is too long the definition of what is being built may change, complexity may rise, and risk may increase. If Sprints are too short it may not be possible to produce an Increment that meets the Definition of Done.

Shorter Sprints can be employed to generate more learning cycles and limit the risk of cost and effort to a smaller time frame. Each Sprint may be considered a short project

I have taught Scrum to 10,000+ people and have found the most common Sprint duration to be 2 weeks. This is true for over 70% of Scrum Teams.

The length of a Sprint can change if the Scrum Team decide to do so and there is a good reason for it. This should be an infrequent occurrence and Sprint duration should not be changed whilst a Sprint is underway.

Sprints have consistent durations. Consistent Sprint durations reduce complexity and increase predictability. A new Sprint starts immediately after the conclusion of the previous Sprint. There are no gaps between Sprints.

Sprints include non-working time such as weekends and holidays. This means that the amount of working time may vary.

Many Scrum Teams choose to start their Sprints mid-week in order to avoid Mondays & Fridays when people are more likely to be away or distracted.

During the Sprint:

  • No changes are made that would endanger the Sprint Goal;
  • Quality does not decrease;
  • The Product Backlog is refined as needed; and,
  • Scope may be clarified and renegotiated with the Product Owner as more is learned.

The name Sprint is a little misleading. It implies you are rushing or racing to get work Done, but this should not be the case. The Sprint is the name for a period of time within which an Increment is created. There is no requirement to move faster than normal. A Scrum Team should be able to work in Sprints at a sustainable pace.

The name Sprint probably sounded good back in the early days of Scrum. The connotation of speed was likely attractive to decision-makers and early adopters. It is perhaps a little late now to change the name to something that would make this all clearer. The word Sprint has a new connotation for many of us. I’ve learned to live with it. I hope you can too!