Hey there, ScrumMaster I have a question for you. Which is better for your Scrum Team: Forecasting, or Committing? When you’re in Sprint Planning, which word do you use? Are you committing content into the Sprint, or are you forecasting content into the Sprint? What’s the difference? Which one is better?

Why do meteorologists on TV make a weather “forecast” and not a weather “commitment”? Well, because they’re often wrong! Simply put, things change, the world is a complex place. If you’re on a Scrum Team, it’s the same thing. If you commit to work in a Sprint, you’re saying that your team is absolutely going to get that work done. But if you think about it, can you really commit? Most of the work done on a Scrum team is fairly complex… is a commitment really going to work? The Scrum Guide suggests that we’re not committing, but forecasting, for the same reason that a meteorologist does. We’re making our best guess based on what we know and based on our experience as #developers on the Scrum team.

Why does it really matter? Well, when you make a commitment, the desire to complete the commitment causes corners to be cut, quality to be reduced, increased mistakes, and poor decisions that aren’t about “getting it done right,” but are about “getting it done now.” None of those things are good! Nothing good comes out of a commitment.

If your organization measures teams on their ability to finish what they commit to, that’s a problem. A team who is judged this way will have a tendency to subconsciously, or even deliberately, commit to less than what they can actually do, so they know they can get it all done.

You know the least about what’s going to happen at the moment that you plan it. Essentially, all plans are wrong. So when we commit work, we’re already wrong, and we’ve already made the fundamental mistake of saying what’s going to happen. The reality is that things change.

In a Sprint, the Sprint Goal is paramount. The thing we’re trying to achieve is what you should be focused on, the PLAN is just ONE of the MANY ways to get to that Sprint Goal. So, focus on the goal because that’s what’s important. We take a crack at planning how to reach it, but committing to it is thinking that you can perfectly predict the weather, when the fact is that you can’t because nobody can.

Be sure to check out more of our #AskArtisan video series!