I'd say that a sprint implies commitment, hard working, willingness to finish all the tasks taken into the sprint by the end of the sprint.

On the other hand Scrum doesn't require a team to complete all the tasks taken into the Sprint.


Jeff Sutherland, one of the creators of Scrum, provides an answer in his book Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time:

And so my team embarked on what we called "Sprints". We called them that because the name evoked a quality of intensity. We were going to work all out for a short period of time and then stop to see where we were.

In Scrum, Sprints have some of the characteristics that you describe. Scrum has five values - commitment, courage, focus, openness, and respect. The values of commitment and focus align with what you would expect from a Sprint, but the commitment is to the Sprint Goal rather than to completing all of the Product Backlog Items or the Sprint Backlog.


One thing I wish to add to the accepted answer, is that you shouldn't take the meaning of the word "Sprint" literally. You see from Thomas Owens' answer that it was a name attached to the way they structured they're work.

In a sprint in a sporting event, participants prepare for the sprint (e.g. warm-up), start the sprint when the signal is given, cover a short distance over a short period of time to reach their goal (i.e. the finish line), then look at what they managed to accomplish (i.e. where on the podium did they finish, how they performed, etc). With a Scrum Sprint, you do something similar. You have a sprint planning meeting to prepare, you set a goal that you want to reach, you start the sprint and work toward that goal, and when you are done you have review and retrospective meetings to look at what you accomplished and how your performed.

But like I said, don't take the word literally. A Sprint is Scrum's terminology for an iteration. Unlike the word iteration though, the word Sprint has an "urgency" or "straining effort" attached to it. In a sporting event sprint, you run as fast as possible towards the finish line. It doesn't matter if you depleat all of your energy, or if your muscles start to hurt, as long as you finish the race. That's your goal. And you don't start a new sprint after you finished the one you just participated in. Your body needs to recover. So here is where you should stop the sporting analogy and resort to other Agile guidelines, mainly that the team should work at a sustainable pace, otherwise you won't manage to "sprint" for long when developing software.

Commitment, hard working, and willingness to finish all the work, etc do not apply to the Sprint, but to the people doing the work. Everyone is focused to reach their goal, but if they don't, it's not the end of the world. The goal is something that brings value, the goal is not to finish all the stories taken into the sprint. So people's commitment is to do the best job they possible can to reach the goal, their commitment is not to finish all the stories in the sprint. That's why the team forecasts the work selected for the Sprint and cannot commit to finishing all of the stories, all of the time.

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