How to have engaging agile reviews

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How to have engaging agile reviews

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by Tristan Bagnall

I recently started having discussions with teams and stakeholders on what a sprint review, or kanban review milestone should look like.

There seemed to be varied opinions ranging from, it is a chance for us to show how we implemented the code to fellow engineers, to a chance for the product people to sign off each story.

In this post I will cover how get better engagement with your stakeholders.

Lets head back to core Scrum - the the Scrum Guide: Sprint Review event. There is quite a detailed set of steps that those involved must consider but it boils down to:

'A Sprint Review is held at the end of the Sprint to inspect the Increment and adapt the Product Backlog if needed.' - Scrum Guide,

But what does that mean, and is the description in the scrum guide the only way to achieve it?

The review is the first chance for the team to engage with the stakeholders and get a feedback loop in place. The team can then pivot based on that feedback.

How to engage stakeholders

Have you ever sat in a review and been confused waiting to be delighted? Well it is likely that that team, like all teams is on a journey. A journey of discovery, of learning about how to take a problem, work on it and deliver it as working software, to live.

Wow, you might say, that is idealistic. No team can take a problem and put it live. There are those who can, but the majority cannot... yet. They are on their way there and if given time and support they too can get there.

Here are some examples of how teams may engage stakeholders in sprint reviews, starting with the earlier stages of the journey:

    • A play by play description of the teams activities

      'We picked up story 123, then we wrote some tests to cover scenarios xyz. Once those were done we got a red build, as the tests failed. The writing of the application code was quite quick. It passed the tests, but then we realised we needed to add a little more tests as the code was....'
    • A story by story demonstration

      'We did 10 stories this sprint, here is the list. Let me start with story 123. I have a virtual machine set-up to show you this story. On the login page we added the cancel button. As you can see it is in the correct branding styling, and is screen reader ready. Okay now let me show you story 124. This one needs me to log in. As you can see the users home page has changed after login, and it now shows their username in the top right. Great so the next in the list is story 125. Lets close the browser, and go back to the login screen. So as you can see we hae the cancel button I showed you in 123, but we also have the login button. In this story we corrected the rounded corners on that button. Over to Terry for the next story...'

    • A narrative through the system pointing out where the changes are

      'So today we are going to show you the changes we have made to the system. Let me get to the login page. Here you can see we added the cancel button and changed the login button. There were some issues around the curve on the button. Okay so now we are in you can see we moved the users name to the top right of the page....'
    • An experience for the stakeholders

      'Hi, thanks for coming along, did you all bring your machines? Great, so here are a few highlights of the changes we made and where they can be found. I will leave them up for your reference. Naturally we are after feedback on these, but we would like feedback on the general system.

      Please go to url and play. The team are all here to answer questions over IM / voice / video. They will also wonder around to ask you find out what you think. All feedback is good feedback.'

Where are you? Any other examples? - send them to me and I can add them.

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