What exercise do you recommend scrum teams to run in a sprint review?
I don’t recommend that they run an exercise in a sprint review.
Exercises are often an opportunity to teach, which isn’t appropriate for a sprint review, or they are designed to help people achieve a specific outcome.
It’s a defined path through something where you execute on A, B, C, etc. until you reach the other end and have a tangible or measurable outcome, which isn’t appropriate for a sprint review either.
In a sprint review, I want teams to focus on having open, honest and respectful conversations with stakeholders and customers. I want them to focus on what the team attempted, what they achieved, why there is a gap between those two elements, and what needs to happen for the team to achieve future goals and objectives.
Talk about where you are.
Talk about where you are in the product development process and what the team have created in the sprint. Talk about the problems that were solved and what the team aimed to achieve with each of the backlog items that were delivered during the sprint.
Show customers and product stakeholders what you have made. If possible, allow them to interact and play with the new product. Use the opportunity to describe what you have achieved and ask them for feedback.
Actively investigate whether the product or feature delights customers and stakeholders, and if not, why not.
This doesn’t need an exercise. It is simply talking about what you have created, how that delivers value to customers, and ascertaining whether it does, in fact, delight your customers.
As a coach, I ask a great deal of questions.
It isn’t enough to get feedback that says, ‘we don’t like it’. You need to ask why they don’t like it or which elements they do like versus which elements they don’t like. Really dig deep to uncover the reasons for people’s response to the product that has been created.
Talk about the problems encountered.
This isn’t about whining or complaining.
You are simply walking product stakeholders and customers through the challenges you encountered and explaining why those impediments prevented the team from achieving a goal, objective, or specific outcome.
A scrum master doesn’t have the authority to make changes across the organization and needs help from powerful sponsors, product stakeholders and potentially even customers to overcome impediments.
The team may encounter issues outside of their influence and control, and actively need the help of product stakeholders and leaders within the organization to acquire resources or remove impediments.
This part of the sprint review helps provide stakeholders, leaders and customers with the insight necessary to decide whether they can help us solve problems. It provides them with clarity around the problems the team encounter and how solving those problems leads to advances in the product development space.
So, use this opportunity to share information that empowers others to understand the problem and decide whether they can do something to actively help the team.
Talk about the future.
This is a conversation about what the team will attempt in the future and may include rough estimates, based on past performance, of what the team will deliver in the future.
A sprint burnup chart or burndown chart can help product stakeholders and customers visualise the team’s progress over the past few months and provide a credible and reliable foundation for predicting future performance.
You may talk about what the team anticipate delivering in the next sprint or sprints, and you may want to talk about why the team have prioritised these items for delivery.
It is a great way to check in with customers / product stakeholders and make sure that you are going to be working on the most valuable items for them. If they agree, great, the team know they are on the right track. If they don’t agree, great, the team can pivot and focus on the items which customers and stakeholders have flagged as critical or critically important.
Again, you don’t need an exercise for this. You simply need to allow them into your world and show them the tools that you are working with. It may be a Trello board, it may be an online Kanban board, or it may be as simple as a spreadsheet.
You want them to see what the team are using to track progress and prioritise items, and you want them to see the bigger picture whilst talking about the present and short-term future.
Make use of this opportunity to really understand what customers and stakeholders value, and to gain agreement that the team are focused on the most valuable items for delivery.
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