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What’s a time-box?

What’s a time-box?

When working with people who are new to “agile” development methods, particularly Scrum, I notice there seems to be a great deal of confusion about the concept of a time-box.

Time-boxes are baked into Scrum at multiple levels. The Sprint is a time-box, and all the standard Scrum events are time-boxed. Yet, many people who adopt Scrum pay little attention to this aspect of the process. They begin their events late and they extend the time of an event if they haven’t yet met the objectives.

I don’t speak for the inventors of Scrum, but my understanding of the time-box mechanism is that it has two key functions for a team and organization. When people don’t use time-boxes in a way that enables those functions, it suggests they don’t quite understand what the time-box is for.

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