Refinement can be tough, getting everyone in a room to talk about Stories can feel like a waste of time and money, especially if stories end up not refined afterward. This session is suggested for all levels of Agile expertise as it will review the basics of refinement (good for Novices, and come on, we can always use a refresher from time to time) but it will also provide some new ways to approach it, changing it from just “another team meeting” to the “Way we work”. The goal of this session is to remember what Refinement is and give a fresh perspective on it, simplify it, and offer a new means of achieving it. I will also Introduce a new method of Refinement and possibly provide a solution to the coveted “two sprints ahead” goal that we never seem to be able to reach.


Outline/Structure of the Talk

  • Shu Ha Ri and Grand Mastery
    • Quick Reminder of Shu Ha Ri
      • Shu – The Basics
      • Ha – Application of the Basics in dynamic situations
      • Ri – Innovation founded on Mastery and Alteration of the Basics
    • My Grandfather was a Grand Master in Tae Kwon Do
      • In his discipline, you achieved this through 10-Degrees of Black Belt
      • Each Degree required continued demonstrable Mastery of all previous degrees, plus ever incrementing years of practice.
      • Getting from Black Belt to 10 Degree took 45 years of not just Ha and RI, but also Shu.
    • We cannot forget Shu, no matter how advanced we get.
      • It is easy as we learn more, come across cool new techniques, or just go through the motions, to forget about Shu
      • When we forget about Shu, the Ha and Ri can take over, making whatever it is we were working more complex, more expensive and less efficient.
  • So let’s revisit Shu for Refinement, before we go back to learning something new.
    • History of Refinement in the Scrum Guide (
      • Refinement was a suggested Tip in the original 2010 Scrum Guide
      • Added as a Practice in 2011. (the next year)
      • Renamed from Grooming to Refinement in 2013.
      • Is NOT a Ceremony in Scrum (In 6 major revisions)
    • Why I think it isn’t a ceremony, and why it shouldn’t be.
      • While there is no prescribed ceremony for Refinement, Refinement is crucial to the success of Teams who use Scrum
      • Refinement is as vital to your work as coding or testing
        • we don’t have a coding or testing ceremony do we?
  • We need to shift our thought on refinement as “another meeting” or “one of those agile things”
    • Back to Basics, What is Refinement?
    • Share the Scrum Guide paragraphs on Refinement (Legal info, License, Link to Scrum Guide,
      • Highlight the Basics
        • Adding Detail
          • Dependencies
          • Acceptance Criteria
          • Enough to start
            • Do any missing details prevent us from knowing what the story is asking for?
            • Do any missing details prevent us from knowing how we are basically going to build it?
            • Do we have enough detail to be reasonably certain the size won’t drastically change?
            • Will any of the important missing details take a long time to get?
          • Adding Estimates
          • Ordering Items in the Backlog
          • Splitting Stories (not included in the Guide)
          • Get the story to a state where it can “Reasonably be done in a Sprint time-box”
        • Two key details, which are the most important:
          • “Ongoing Process”
          • “The Scrum Team decides how and when Refinement is Done.”
  • DOSES of Refinement
    • Refinement Goals
      • D – etails
      • O – rder
      • S – plitting
      • E – stimates
      • S – print Ready
    • People with complicated medical needs, are often placed on medication that they take on a regular cadence in order to maintain their health.
      • Without this regular maintenance, their health can and will decline.
      • Backlogs are the same way, if they are not regularly maintained, they will easily fall into ill health.
      • Refinement is the medication a Backlog needs to maintain its health.
    • “An ongoing activity of Refinement in small doses regularly”
      • Method 1 - Story Focused Sessions
        • Focus on one story at a time
          • Example: Every day, the team will get 1 story refined, timeboxed, may continue story into next day’s timebox (15 to 30 minutes)
        • Method 2 - Goal Focused Sessions
          • Focus on one refinement goal at a time for a group of stories
            • Example: Every week, the team will refine a group of stories with several sessions throughout the week, with each session focused on one of the DOSES goals. Timeboxed per session.
          • Benefits of these methods
            • No two-hour long meetings to make your team feel like they’re losing a day of productivity.
            • Teams with multiple Product Owners can just focus on one of them at a time, while not wasting the other’s
            • Creates a habit of refinement.
            • If well disciplined, can get teams to have a continuous stream of refined stories, maybe even two sprints out worth.

Learning Outcome

Participants can recall the original purpose of Refinement.

Participants can recall the DOSES goals of Refinement.

Participants are empowered to experiment with different formats of Refinement.

Participants will walk away with some new Refinement Tools.

Target Audience

Anyone who interacts with Story Refinement in all levels of Agile Experience. Scrum Masters, Product Owners, Agile Team Facilitators, Team Leads or Team Members of teams struggling with the discipline of Refinement.

Prerequisites for Attendees

Basic knowledge of User Stories in a Scrum context.

schedule Submitted 1 year ago