How much of a role should an Agile coach play in a sprint review?
I would start by first defining what you mean by Agile coach. Are we talking about a scrum master or are we talking about a coach who specialises in agile and working with teams to achieve increased agility?
I would then define what role that agile coach is expected to play, within the team environment and within the sprint review.
- Are they there to facilitate the sprint review?
- Are they to ensure that there is a clear agenda for the sprint review?
- Are they there to ensure that the sprint review has a clear purpose?
- Are they there to keep things moving in the right direction and help the team stay focused on the important conversations that deliver great feedback for the team?
- Are they there to observe the scrum master in action and provide feedback after the sprint review?
Agile Team Coach
If you are contracted as an agile coach to help scrum teams become more effective at scrum and achieve the most positive outcomes from sprint reviews, you want to be in the sprint review.
As an agile coach or scrum master, your job is facilitation. Facilitation is outside of the content; you are instead focused on creating the space for a great sprint review.
Start by helping the team achieve clarity around the purpose and structure of the sprint review.
- This is what we are aiming to achieve.
- This is the agenda for the sprint review and how we flow from one section to another.
- This is what we want to talk about, and these are the key issues to raise.
- Do we have a concrete product or feature update to demonstrate?
- Are we going to demonstrate the product or are we going to allow the customers and product stakeholders to explore the feature or product themselves?
In the sprint review itself, I would start by inviting the developers or the product manager to the floor to talk to product stakeholders and customers about:
- What we aimed to achieve in the sprint and why that is important.
- What we achieved and why that is different to what we aimed for.
- What prevented us from achieving our goals and objectives, and why?
- What we are going to focus on in the next sprint and why.
Remember, as the scrum master or agile coach, you didn’t do the work. The developers did. We didn’t decide on the priority of items nor did we articulate the vision for the product. The product owner did.
We aren’t there to lead the sprint review; we are there to help the team shine.
Our role is to create the space where the team can confidently speak to customers and product stakeholders about the work they have done in the sprint and to demonstrate why it is great work that meets requirements and standards.
Make sure that the team are prepared. Make sure that they can speak confidently about the work they have done and how that aims to serve customers and end users.
In the early days of working with a team, we are helping developers and product owners’ step into that space. Helping them to prepare and speak confidently about their work, the impediments they face, and what the team are aiming for in the future.
We are helping them to understand the purpose of a great sprint review and structure the event in a way that helps them present information confidently, facilitate conversations that inform and empower, and receive feedback that informs what the team do next.
We provide the team with a structure for a great sprint review, and we invite them to think about what they are going to say at each specific step in the review. We also encourage them to think about the kinds of questions they will be asked at each step of the review and what kind of response would be most appropriate to that question.
You want the team to grow in confidence with each sprint review and to establish that the review is a safe space for people to have open, honest, and respectful conversations that help the team improve.
As an agile coach, you want to make sure that the product stakeholders and customers know the purpose of a sprint review. You also want them to be aware of the rules that govern a sprint review to ensure that they contribute effectively and respectfully.
Take the time to walk them through what a great sprint review looks, sounds, and feels like, and help them understand how their contribution and feedback will inform the team’s efforts moving forward.
Help them understand that the sprint review is a critical event that helps ensure that the team are delivering valuable work that delights customers and end users.
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For more information on John McFadyen, connect with John on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnmcfadyen/.
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