How Do Scrum Events complement each other?

David Pereira
David Pereira
Product Leader, Content Creator, Speaker
Posted on
Apr 25, 2023
Updated on
May 2, 2023
Table of Content

Connecting the dots of Scrum

I often stumble upon the same questions. Maybe you’ve faced something similar, too. Here are some intriguing questions I get:

Whenever I get one of the above, I know misunderstandings around Scrum dominate the team. Although Scrum aims to be simple, its interpretations have endless variants.

Let me take a few minutes to help you understand how to connect the dots of Scrum. This will enable you to benefit more from the framework.

The Core of Scrum

Something sad happens with Scrum. People focus excessively on Scrum events while forgetting the framework’s core, which is its power.

The core of Scrum is empiricism. That means we embrace the unknown and continuously uncover new opportunities. One of the best definitions of Scrum in one sentence comes from Maarten Dalmijn:

“Using what we know to uncover what we don’t”

This summarizes beautifully what Scrum is all about: Scrum isn’t about decomposing projects to Sprints and delivering incrementally. That’s against what Scrum is, because it doesn’t adapt the next steps according to acquired learnings.

It makes me sad that only a few teams know the values Scrum stands for, which are:

Commitment, Focus, Openness, Respect, and Courage

The above values are vital to enable teams to create value faster. I will elaborate in the following paragraphs on how they can be applied during each Scrum event.

Scrum in a Nutshell

I won’t bore you to death with the theory about every Scrum interaction. I’ll simplify the understanding of it based on the why, output, and outcome, and what happens when you skip it.

Before I jump into the events, let me try to give you a brief overview of each interaction:

  • Refinement Session: Understanding the problems
  • Sprint Planning: Committing to a goal
  • Daily Scrum: Aligning and progressing
  • Sprint Retrospective: Reflecting and improving
  • Sprint Review: Feedback on results

Now, let’s discuss each event in more detail and understand how they complement each other.

Refinement Session

Albert Einstein said, “If I had an hour to work on a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes understanding the problem and 5 minutes solving it.”

The refinement session is the moment to understand the problem, why solving it matters, and what success looks like. Curiously, the backlog refinement (previously called grooming) isn’t an official Scrum event, but it is as vital as any other. 

Scrum suggests doing refinement as often as necessary. This open interpretation can lead to several anti-patterns, e.g., over-refinement, no refinement, etc.

What’s the core of refinement?

  • Goal: Build a shared understanding of problems the team will work on next
  • Output: Refinement backlog items
  • Outcome: Clarity about what’s behind the tasks they will work soon

The refinement is the moment to understand the why and craft the what, but it’s not the moment to define the how. The team isn’t supposed to know how to solve a problem technically, but they should understand what the problem is and what success looks like.

Sprint Planning

The first thing that happens at every Sprint is planning what to focus on next. And this one can get quite tricky and misunderstood.

Sprint Planning isn’t anything like traditional project management, but it does mutate to that more often than you imagine. Planning by capacity and defining tasks to be delivered isn’t the goal of this session. That’s an anti-pattern.

Remember the Scrum values: commitment and focus. That could summarize Sprint Planning. 

You’ve got to commit to a goal and focus on it.

Here is the core of Sprint Planning:

  • Goal: Commitment to a valuable goal
  • Output: Sprint Goal and Sprint Backlog
  • Outcome: Motivation and confidence to reach the Sprint Goal

The session can be exhausting when done wrong. For example, if the team didn’t do refinement sessions, they’re forced to do it during the planning, which becomes counterproductive.

Remember that refinement isn’t the moment to talk about how to get the work done, but Sprint Planning is. The team commits to a goal and talks in-depth to define how they organize themselves to reach the goal, which will become the Sprint Backlog.

Daily Scrum

Every day the Scrum team syncs their activities toward the Sprint Goal. You can see a direct connection with Sprint Planning because if the Sprint Goal is absent or meaningless, the Daily Scrum becomes mechanical and pointless.

Contrary to what many people still think, the Daily Scrum isn’t something rigid where everyone replies to what they did yesterday, will do today, and if they face any impediments. That was part of the previous Scrum Guide, not the current one.

The Daily Scrum is a moment to connect your daily activities with the Sprint Goal and ensure the team is progressing towards it. Developers must bring the value of openness and transparently share how they’re progressing.

  • Goal: Progress toward the Sprint Goal
  • Output: Actions defined and impediments identified
  • Outcome: Confidence to get closer to the Sprint Goal
Without a valuable Daily Scrum, the team limits its chance of reaching the Sprint Goal.

Sprint Review

The Scrum team works hard to reach the Sprint Goal during the Sprint. Then comes the time to present the results and collect feedback. That’s the Sprint Review.

The challenge of the Sprint Review is getting the stakeholders engaged in the session. Traditionally, this becomes a monotonous presentation where stakeholders watch and only say a few words. That’s wrong. The Sprint Review should be a working session.

A beautiful Sprint Review requires a valuable Sprint Goal and a great result. Then, the Scrum team can exchange with the stakeholders what they achieved and receive valuable feedback.

The characteristics of the Sprint Review are:

  • Goal: Engage stakeholders
  • Output: Feedback on Sprint Increment
  • Outcome: Engaged stakeholders and motivated Scrum team

Sprint Retrospective

To become a better team, we need to step back from our busy routines and evaluate what worked and what didn’t. 

I like saying that nothing is too good that it cannot be improved, and nothing is too bad with nothing to learn from. The Sprint Retrospective is the moment to evaluate the collaboration and define actions to improve it.

  • Goal: Become a better team
  • Output: Actions for the next Sprint
  • Outcome: Stronger bonds with the team

An important aspect is how to provide feedback. I recommend using a radical candor approach by saying what’s necessary instead of dancing around words. I use a format of situation, action, and impact. For example, “As a Product Owner, during the Sprint Review, I got frustrated when Jack presented feature A with two missing acceptance criteria and called it done.”

Respect and courage are values to bring to the Sprint Retrospective session. Fundamentally, everyone respects each other despite the results. Also, it’s vital to have the courage to speak up and share what’s disturbing you.

Without Sprint Retrospectives, teams diminish their chances of becoming stronger.


None of the Scrum Events are optional. If you remove one of them, you make Scrum disabled. Let me make it clear what happens by removing each event:

  • Refinement: You confuse the team because people won’t understand the problems they need to solve, or you combine it with Sprint Planning and contribute to an exhausting session.
  • Sprint Planning: It’s unlikely that teams will skip this session, but they might ignore the Sprint Goal, which is the glue of the Sprint. Without the goal, the team ends up dividing into micro teams.
  • Sprint Review: When this session is absent, stakeholders become anxious because they lack transparency and the Scrum team misses the critical feedback to progress in the right direction.
  • Sprint Retrospective: Without retrospectives, frustration accumulates and team members will inevitably disengage.

Each piece of Scrum is fundamental to its goal. To deliver value faster, you need to use Scrum entirely. Otherwise, you’re not doing Scrum but something other than that.

The beauty of Scrum is creating rooms for each important aspect to take place.

About the author

David Pereira
Product Leader, Content Creator, Speaker

Product Leader with 15+ years of experience. Currently located in Munich, Germany and striving to help companies create value faster. I'm a Partner at Value Rebels and Interim Chief Product Officer at omoqo. My passion is helping product teams overcome their challenges and deliver REAL value faster. Almost every product team is trapped somehow, untrapping them is what drives me.

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