Tech lead thinks it's ok to skip Sprint Planning

I heard about a Scrum Master asking the Tech Lead to provide a heads up in advance in case he won’t be able to attend their meetings (in this case, it was their Sprint Planning). The Tech Lead said that his absence shouldn’t affect the Sprint Planning since the team would just be doing estimations (deduced meaning because the original reason he gave out didn’t make so much sense).

True that his absence shouldn’t keep the Sprint Planning from happening. But the Sprint Planning is not just about estimations. More than anything, it’s about alignment.

So what happens in a Sprint Planning? At least from my experience (affirmed by and sprinkled with some stuff I read about from Kniberg):

  • The team goes over the potential sprint backlog items from the Product Owner — sizing and discussing the stories, breaking them down further if needed, adjusting the prioritization if needed.
  • The team brings up any other technical user stories that need to be prioritized.
  • The team / Scrum Master brings up any user stories or improvement items from the retrospective that needs to be prioritized.
  • The team gets informed of any critical dates or targets that they should be mindful of in the sprint.
  • The team agrees on the following:
    • Sprint Goal
    • Sprint Backlog (defined as not just the list of stories, but also including a “plan for delivering the product Increment and realizing the Sprint Goal.”)
  • The team aligns on their availability (e.g., planned leaves, out of office dates for training, etc.)

So there. To me what’s essential about the Sprint Planning is starting off the sprint at the right foot with the team being in the same page. Ideally, it’s coming out of that meeting not feeling defeated (oh, no, we’re dead, we have an impossible deadline) but rather feeling united and empowered (we can do this).

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