Four Agile Ceremonies, Demystified

Scrum has four ceremonies that bring structure to each sprint. Done right, these ceremonies create regularity and minimize the need for other meetings. But what is “right”, and how can you use Jira Software to make the ceremonies effective?

For someone new to agile, the Scrum roles, artifacts and ceremonies may seem mysterious and confusing. What are they about? Are they really necessary? Yes, they are necessary but not sufficient if you want to realize the benefits of Scrum. Just going through the motions of the Scrum ceremonies while still adhering to a waterfall way of thinking will get you nowhere. There is a difference between doing agile and being agile. Unfortunately, it is not unusual for an organization wanting to ”become agile” to just add some agile terminology on the surface of old governance structures, meetings, roles and metrics. When the desired benefits are not realized, the agile transformation is abandoned with the notion that “agile does not work in our organization”.

That said, with a foundation of agile thinking in place, the ceremonies are the clockwork bringing structure and helping the teams to continuous value creation. (“Ceremony” here means basically just a meeting with a strict format and a strict desired outcome.) The four ceremonies in Scrum are:

  • Sprint planning:A meeting on the first day of the sprint where the team determines what to complete in the upcoming sprint.
  • Daily stand-up:Also known as daily scrum, a 15-minute mini-meeting for team members to keep each other informed, connected, and calibrated.
  • Sprint review:A demo at the end of the sprint where the team shows to each other and to stakeholders what they have completed in the sprint.
  • Sprint retrospective:A review at the end of the sprint where the team looks at what did and did not work well in the sprint and defines actions to make the next sprint even better.

Predictability is important here: The timing, agenda and  participant list of these meetings should not come as a surprise.

The short guides below from Atlassian describe each of the agile ceremonies in more detail. These guides also show us how Jira Software can help the team get more value from the agile ceremonies.

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