Why I Love Sprint Reviews 🎭

Nov 19, 2021 9:01 pm

Happy Friday!

There is a lot on my mind lately with holidays and work. I'll confess now I haven't been writing as much as I should, so as I write this I was going through a list of topics before landing on this one.

Why l love sprint reviews!

If we zoom out on how the whole scrum thing works, one key element is that each part of Scrum has a counterpart that creates a feedback loop. We need the feedback so we learn and improve. When we're kids in school, getting our stuff graded is a form of feedback. If nothing got graded we don't easily know if we've learned the material correctly.

I'm not saying this is ideal feedback, but just to explain the idea of feedback.

In Scrum, the most potent moment of feedback is a Sprint Review, and unsurprisingly the most under-utilized.

The reason it is under-utilized is that groups do not want that feedback!

The last team I was asked to turn around, one of the first things I addressed was the Sprint Review. I asked only for a few things. First, I asked that the team only show software that met their Definition of Done. Second, I asked that some combination of stakeholders, customers, and bosses get invited.

I can tell you now, the first few reviews were really rough. The team was embarrassed at how little they could show. When our guests asked questions, everyone had to answer why things were the way they were, and we didn't like that truth.

You better believe that everyone had a reason to change after that. They turned things around quickly to release a lot more software with a lot fewer bugs. The conversations moved from dreading questions to exploring what a future product could be. It even went so far as the team inviting their customers to planning meetings as well.

Feedback is magic, and the best feedback in Scrum comes from the Sprint Review.

So, if after reading this you're thinking maybe you're not getting the feedback you wish you had from your Sprint Reviews, look at the same thing I did with my team. Are you only showing software that is done according to your definition of done? Do you have external people invited and coming?

As an aside before I close, I mentioned above people don't want that feedback. Typically when I suggest those two changes people get nervous or apprehensive because they worry about what will go wrong.

Guess what? That's feedback! That is your own self-awareness of the situation and a desire to avoid confronting it. Giving in to that temptation to avoid the review robs you of the feedback you need to break the cycle. Find courage with your team and make the changes!