What is the most important Scrum event?

In the realm of Agile approaches, Scrum stands out as the most widely known and widely used framework. Since its beginning in the 90s and 00s, it has revolutionized the way teams approach prodcut development and project management. At the heart of Scrum are its events, each designed to ensure that the team stays on track and follow Scrum pillars and values.

This article will attempt to answer the difficult question, “what is the most important Scrum event” – and in summary:

  • They are all necessary for Scrum to work effectively
  • They are all necessary for something to be called Scrum. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it! But it does mean you can’t call it Scrum
  • The Sprint contains all other events, so without it, none of them work, so it technically is the most important, though I think there is one that is more valuable (see below).

Understanding Scrum Events

Scrum events are the building blocks of the Scrum framework. They provide a structured approach to managing and executing a project. These events are:

  • Sprint Planning: Where the team decides what to work on during the next Sprint.
  • Daily Scrum: A daily meeting to discuss progress and obstacles.
  • Sprint Review: A session to inspect the work done during the Sprint.
  • Sprint Retrospective: A reflection phase to identify improvements for the next Sprint.

The Heartbeat of Scrum: The Sprint

Often referred to as the heartbeat of Scrum, the Sprint is where ideas transform into value. But what exactly is a Sprint?

A Sprint is a fixed duration of time during which specific work has to be completed and made ready for review. The importance of Sprints in Scrum cannot be overstated. They offer:

  • Fixed length periods of work: This ensures consistency and predictability.
  • Short iterations for feedback: Quick cycles mean the team can adapt and pivot based on feedback (and enables faster flow).
  • Frequent feedback cycles: This ensures that the product aligns with user needs and expectations.
  • Risk management in longer Sprints: Longer Sprints can become complex, increasing the risk. Regular feedback and shorter cycles help in mitigating this.

Moreover, the Sprint is unique as it encompasses all other Scrum events, making it the central pillar of the Scrum framework.

Key Components of a Sprint

Each Sprint consists of several key components:

  • Sprint Planning: This sets the stage for the Sprint. The team, along with the Product Owner, decides on the tasks to tackle based on the product backlog.
  • Daily Scrum: These are daily check-ins where the team discusses their progress, any obstacles they might be facing, and plans for the day.
  • Sprint Review: At the end of the Sprint, the team evaluates the work done, showcasing it to stakeholders and gathering feedback.
  • Sprint Retrospective: This is a reflection phase. The team discusses what went well, what didn’t, and how they can improve in the next Sprint. It is an important part of Kaizen, or Continuous Improvement.

The Significance of the Sprint Goal

Every Sprint revolves around a Sprint Goal. This goal provides direction and purpose. It ensures that the team has a clear focus and understands the value they aim to deliver by the end of the Sprint. The Sprint Goal offers:

  • Flexibility: While it provides direction, there’s flexibility in how the goal is achieved.
  • Coherence: It ensures that the team is aligned and works collaboratively.
  • Focus: With a clear goal, the team can avoid distractions and stay on track.

The Sprint Goal is a commitment by the developers, ensuring that everyone is on the same page and working towards a common objective.

Most people believe that a Scrum team commits to the sprint tasks, i.e. the Sprint Backlog items. This is untrue! The team actually commits to the Sprint Goal. This gives them some flexibility in how they achieve that goal.

Empiricism in Sprints

One of the core principles of Scrum is empiricism. It’s the belief in making decisions based on what is observed rather than what is predicted. In the context of Sprints, empiricism plays a crucial role:

  • Continuous Improvement: By reflecting on their work and processes, teams can identify areas of improvement.
  • Navigating Complex Environments: In complex projects, there’s a lot that’s unknown. Empiricism allows teams to learn by doing, adapting as they go along, instead of trying to plan and predict up-front, before they have begun and experienced the work.
  • Forecasting: While there are many tools and practices like burn-downs and burn-ups to forecast progress, they don’t replace the importance of empiricism. Decisions are made based on observed outcomes and not just predictions.

So what is the most important Scrum event?

Well the bad news, is the answer pretty much has to be “all of them”. The Scrum Guide makes it clear that all of the events are needed. And while you totally can change Scrum, you can’t continue to call it Scrum.

most important scrum event team work

Just like you could take the game of chess, and make rooks able to jump over pieces like a knight. And you could play that game, nobody would stop you. But that game you’re playing isn’t chess, it’s something else. And you can’t really call it chess (again, nobody would actually stop you, but you would be incorrect).

If you really had to choose one, I suppose it would be the sprint. Because it is a container for all other events. How would you do sprint planning without a sprint? It doesn’t really make sense.

But a sprint by itself, with no other events, might not be very helpful – it would just be a marker.

If you don’t count sprints, then I would actually pick Sprint Review. A team can work without a plan, they can do continuous improvement without a retro, and they can collaborate and communicate without a Daily Scrum. But the regular inspection and feedback from stakeholders is so critical. Without that, a Scrum team is just a project team, completing tasks in some order without any knowledge of the value of their work.

So that’s my take on it.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q1: What is the difference between a Sprint and a Scrum?
    A Sprint is a time-boxed period where specific tasks are completed, while Scrum is the overall framework that encompasses various events, including Sprints.
  • Q2: How long should a Sprint last?
    Typically, a Sprint lasts for two to four weeks, but the duration can vary based on the team’s preference and the nature of the project.
  • Q3: Can you change the Sprint duration?
    Yes, on very rare occasions but it’s essential to maintain consistency once a duration is chosen. Frequent changes can disrupt the team’s rhythm. So every now and you can move from regular two to regular three week sprints for example, but you can’t just adjust the sprint by a day or two here or there whenever you want (e.g. to fit some incomplete backlog items in).
  • Q4: Why is the Sprint retrospective important?
    It allows teams to reflect on their processes, identify areas of potential improvement, and implement changes in the next Sprint. You should hold the Sprint Retro after the Sprint Review, so the team can consider the feedback the team got from the Sprint Review.


The Sprint, with its encompassing nature and structured approach, stands out as the most crucial event in the Scrum framework. It ensures that teams remain focused, deliver value consistently, and continuously improve their processes. By embracing the principles of Scrum and leveraging the power of Sprints, teams can navigate the complexities of project management with ease and efficiency. For those keen on diving deeper into Scrum practices, the Scrum Guide offers a comprehensive overview. Joining a global community like the Scrum Alliance can also provide valuable insights and resources. For a repository of articles and resources on Scrum, Scrum.org Resources is an excellent place to start.

Leave a Comment: