Good Sprint Reviews
Sprint Reviews are the culmination and presentation of four weeks of hard work. This week was my teams first Sprint Review and for me, as a Scrum Master, it was an important and defining moment for our image in the company.
The goals were as follows:
- Get latest feedback from Stakeholders
- Introduce the team to close the gap between us and the Stakeholders.
- Impress the Stakeholders so they cease development on their own solutions and start using ours.
- Delight the (busy) Stakeholders so they return next review.
Scrum purists might scoff at the extra work that went into the review, but it made sense in terms of added value with these goals in mind. In order to achieve these goals, we tried to excel in the following area’s
The most obvious question of all: Where do we want to have the Sprint review?
Some teams decide for the mundane: A basic room with a powerpoint – since putting any more work in is considered a waste of time. Personally I believe that the room setting is extremely important as it lends a sense of professionalism to the team. The stakeholders are going to be in there for two to four hours – do you really want something as simple as the lighting, set-up, plants or seating to lower the quality of the review experience? I have always felt during presentations that this has an impact on the perception of the teams professionalism and by extension the quality of the product. This could be a major issue in a large corporate setting where everybody is striving for ‘the best’ and stakeholders have zero qualms about leaving your team behind to find another solution.
Anyway, we tried to take a special room and spice it up a bit – so we reserved the creative space available and moved everything for the best experience: We moved the couches that are normally sitting in the back of the room all the way to the from. We positioned tables around the room so people could enjoy their lunch in a normal fashion. We closed the curtains, dimmed the lights for maximum visibility of the presentation/demonstration – and off we went. It’s a very small thing, but did wonders for the impression we left behind.
To us this is important, because besides getting feedback, our goal was to impress and delight the stakeholders. We wanted give the stakeholders the confidence that we were the best team to develop this solution and that the stakeholders return for the next review. Our final decision was to delight the stakeholders by providing free lunches (nobody likes to give feedback on an empty stomach) and giving away a small gift to the winner of a technical quiz at the beginning of the meeting.
In a large, slow-moving corporate environment, I believe that the perception of value that is more important than the actual value itself. This is because it is impossible to measure value before the value exists. Furthermore, measuring the value afterwards is very difficult in a complex environment without the proper business-intelligence tooling. This is why we focus on the perception of value when dealing with our stakeholders during this review.
Let me explain: For the review we want everybody (also non-stakeholders) to have the feeling “I want to be at that sprint review”. We achieve this by creating the perception that it is an extremely valuable meeting. It needs to feel like the party you didn’t get an invite to. We want people sneaking in because it’s the place to be. Of course, the actual value lies in the successful realignment of the sprint goal and the business goals to create the most valuable sprint increment possible – but that’s a rather boring proposition that fails to properly capture the stakeholders attention.
To boost the perception of value we sculpted an email inviting the stakeholder to our review. We needed to be sure all stakeholders would be present during the review, so we used free stock templates and images found on Canva to create a beautiful, reusable(!) email template.
We also had custom-made A4 posters printed from reusable(!) designs which include visuals and text. It’s going to be very easy to reuse these for the next time; Maximum value, minimum hassle.
The presentation itself was sculpted to impress the participants. We did this because of our goals; This wasn’t just a Sprint review, it is also an introduction for the team and the project. We needed to WOW!
Our idea here was to create a beautiful reusable presentation that will take minutes to get up-to-date. We also want that the development team and stakeholders get familiar with the structure so its easier for the development team to present. This way we can focus on driving the message home rather than figuring out where the presentation is headed next.
Finally, we had a dedicated 40-minute group feedback session. We posted the product-backlog on the wall and the PO drove the session in order to sculpt the future goals.
For next time: Hands-on
Next time we want to include the stakeholders in the presentation. We want them to click around and present their own APIs that they’ve produced between June and July.