Validate your hypothesis with effective Sprint reviews

Demos are such a key practice to building the right thing for our customer that alignment on its purpose and value is essential. That’s why our Leaders discussed it at their recent Agile Leadership Planning workshop.

We have alignment with PM-PO/Engineering/Operations Leadership that the purpose of our demos is have a rich dialog with our customers (internal and/or external). The purpose of that dialog would be to:

  • Flesh out and vet the problem statement
  • Flesh out and vet the proposed solutions
  • Test our assumptions and our hypotheses
  • Obtain specific feedback on incremental value created towards a solution

We want to ensure the Demos result in value to the customer and any aspect of a Demo not focused on that could be considered waste. In particular this means that Demos are not for status or a platform to showcase efforts and efficiencies. Here are a number of ideas that teams can consider for improving their demos to better align with value to the customer:

  • Presence of Key stakeholders in the demo
    • Depending on the value the team is delivering in the Sprint, team would decide whose presence is most critical for an early feedback
    • SM/PO would engage relevant people in advance and would make sure they attend the demo
    • Such Personas could be:

i. Consumers (Dependent teams/Customers etc)

ii. Architects

iii. PO and/or PM

iv. Support champions and/or Professional services

v. System testers and/or Hardening representatives

vi. Documentation developer and/or i18n champions

vii. BizTool representative if required

    • Having “Right” people in the demo would lead to “Right” feedback
    • 1:1 interaction if important stakeholders miss the demo
    • Avoid inviting DLs or whole groups that are not all likely to provide feedback as it dilutes concept that if you are invited to a demo you should attend it

  • Set expectations about demo / Lean thinking
    • Critical piece of a successful demo is to have “Right/Agreed upon” expectations from all stakeholders
    • Team and Leadership should be in sync about what is being Demoed and this in a way would avoid demo becoming “Status” meetings
    • The decision filters we can use:

i. What validation team is looking out for

ii. Who are the people/team to provide that

iii. What value is delivered by us in the Sprint

    • Alignment between PO and team on when is it OK to cancel the demo
    • Have a small Demo retro to talk about “Do we all see value in the way we run our demos”?
    • Try to be customer centric and focus on key areas
    • If we start combining demos, the frequency of cancelling the demo might reduce

  • Update on actions taken based on the feedback we received in earlier demos
    • This would boost confidence of stakeholders that the feedback given is being considered
    • You will have active participation rather than just having muted audience

  • Are there possibilities of efficiencies
    • One of the ways to improve efficiency is having 2 Demo meetings – One to cater internal stakeholders while other for customers. Each demo would have its own flavor and will trigger specific feedback. This might as well avoid having overlap of unnecessary details.
    • If possible, we can combine Demos of multiple teams working on same Epic. This would enable people to have end-to-end visualization of the epic. In short showing the “Big picture”
    • Agenda of the demo can be sent out in advance so that relevant audience can join

  • Highlight value delivered in the Sprint
    • Talk about the value the team has delivered in the Sprint. This can be in form of unblocking any other team or it could be the milestones achieved
    • Briefing on milestones might comfort leaders as far as timelines are concerned
    • During Sprint planning, team can discuss OR design the sprint deliverable based on the value team wants to deliver


Outline/Structure of the Case Study

Value of effective sprint reviews

  • Presence of Key stakeholders in the demo
  • Set expectations about demo / Lean thinking
  • Update on actions taken based on the feedback we received in earlier demos
  • Are there possibilities of efficiencies
  • Highlight value delivered in the Sprint

Learning Outcome

- More clarity and understanding how to conduct effective sprint reviews instead of status report

- Value addition to the Sprint review time


Target Audience

Agile coaches, Scrum Masters, Managers, Scrum Team members

Prerequisites for Attendees

Anyone who has been working on sprint reviews, demos, presentations to get feedback on improve the product

schedule Submitted 2 years ago

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