Sprint is a planning unit, keeping it stable during that time allows a pretended piece of mind for the developers from marketing/product ever-changing demands. So it feels anyway. We developers signed up a virtual contract with our product teams saying “we will be Agile enough to allow you to change your mind every 1-3 weeks, but don’t disturb us during that time! We want to work, not wasting our time on talks!”.
Does it make sense to you? Is this the true notion behind Agile? Would it be acceptable for a great business?
Well, it makes sense only if you think that waste is more valuable than your attention. Delaying smart decisions or cutting off bad ones after 2 weeks, 2 days or even 2 minutes is simply counterproductive. If you know that a feature selected for the sprint became a waste due to priority change, why should you move forward with it? why throwing the problem to the other side of the fence: “well, my product team should have been wiser with their priorities. We’ll do it anyway just to teach them a lesson so they won’t do it for next sprint!”
Priorities tend to change. It happens constantly. Don’t panic, be open-minded and make sure your team leaders can handle priority shift. It’s perfectly okay to say no, but make sure it’s a “reasonable no”. If you see it does make sense to move out some features and move in some others, do it with care, offer tradeoffs (“this change might mean we won’t be able to release the version on time, let’s delay it in 2 days”) and make sure motivation passes to your team. Your teammates need to realize that providing organized waste is plain dumb; they also need to trust you doing these changes with full attention, clarifying tradeoffs and setting expectations. Practice your agility!