We're Learning: Inspiration Emails and Sprint Planning

You probably know that I send out a weekly Inspiration Email and have been doing so for 108 weeks running (so far).  If you don't get this and want to, sign up.  People love it. Well, most of the time. The email contains a thought-provoking quote and a short note from me that I think of as a "love letter" to the more than 1,000 agilists that receive it.  Oftentimes, I keep the "love letter" very high level because I know there are many ways to practice agile.  This past week, I was inspired by some of the work I did recording the Coaching Agile Teams Video Lessons (coming in November!) and got into the practices level.  Specifically I addressed Sprint Planning and heard about it immediately from Henrik Berglund.  Henrik and I exchanged some emails and we decided to make our conversation transparent here so that we can all learn and so that others can join in.

Here is inspiration email that started it all...

"It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?“ ~ Henry David Thoreau 

Dear Henrik,
Sprint planning is all about choosing the important things, planning them enough to get going and then go! There is never enough time to plan things to match our desire for comfort and assurance. Knowing this, next time, set a timebox for sprint planning with the team and hold the timebox for them.Every minute we're in a meeting is a minute we're not producing value. Hold the timebox, inspect what caused the team to get the purpose of sprint planning done in the timebox (or not) and get better at sprint planning next time.
We are meant to improve the meetings, too. Lyssa

And here is Henrik's response...

>Every minute we're in a meeting is a minute we're not producing value.

Wow... perhaps it would be best then to cancel all meetings and keep everyone typing away in solitute in separate cubicles? We can email the task breakdown to them...

Fairly strange approach to describe people working together to release a product as waste.

Echoes in my head of mass production, productivity, efficiency and other old ideas not really applicable if one wants to get ahead today.

Just one way of looking at what you wrote, I know. Hopefully this is not what you intended, but this is what a lot of people think. This is why the mail pushed my buttons. For me it is not helping the cause to describe scrum activities ("meetings") as waste. I find people working alone mostly are wasting their time...

I hope this was not to confrontational, I just wanted to share my perspective!

Cheers, Henrik

And now, Henrik and I (and whomever joins us) will continue this discussion in the comments.