In this episode of Trainer Talk – the supplemental series to the Agile Coaches’ Corner podcast – Eric Landes, a Professional Scrum Trainer, addresses the question: “Why would the Scrum Guide not use ceremonies and events interchangeably?”
In some classes, students refer to Scrum events as ceremonies. Yet, the guide refers to these as events. So, why would the Scrum Guide not use ceremonies and events interchangeably? My answer typically is something along these lines:
What is a Ceremony?
While we might be able to use these words interchangeably, I think there is a reason for the distinction. There is not a clear explanation in the Scrum Guide why this is, but if we look at the definition of “ceremony,” we might find some hints. According to dictionary.com, one of the definitions of “ceremony” is “the formal activities conducted on some solemn or important public or state occasion.” I think the key is using the words “formal” and “solemn.” In fact, most of the explanations include the word or a variant of the word “formal.”
What is an Event?
In contrast, dictionary.com defines an “event” as “something that happens or is regarded as happening; an occurrence, especially one of some importance.” The Scrum Guide says this about events: “Prescribed events are used in Scrum to create regularity and to minimize the need for meetings not defined in Scrum.” The talk of creating regularity is better defined by “event” than “ceremony” to me. And this speaks to Scrum as a whole: it is more about a framework that helps solve complex problems, not a solemn process that teams must follow.
Scrum Should Minimize Other Meetings
I also emphasize to students that the events are supposed to minimize the need for meetings not defined in Scrum. If team members are saying that Scrum makes most of their time about meetings, I will respond that this is not from the Scrum Framework. This may be an issue where prior meetings for non-Scrum Frameworks are still on the books and may not be necessary. As a team, take some time and evaluate the need for these meetings.
Collaboration is Key
Sometimes I will tell classes that Scrum and other agile frameworks were invented to make sure that developers meet in a regular cadence. Collaboration was not a necessary component of software development when I first started. Agile frameworks just showed us knowledge-workers how much we needed collaboration, and it gave us events that made sure we were collaborating.
So, whatever we call these events, make sure to follow the framework and use them to encourage and foster team collaboration.
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