Keeping Progress High and Questions Low

Everyone Wants to Know Status

Vianet established a cadence around Scrum and soon our customer, stakeholders, executives and others would ask how the current Sprint was going. The people asking questions numbered more than we had on the team. The questioning increased as a Sprint neared its end.

I asked if people could hold off with the questions until the end of the Sprint. It had become too much of a distraction for the team.

Designing Good Retrospectives

A friend suggested that I read “Agile Retrospectives” by Esther Derby and Diana Larsen. The book was recommended to me to help weave activities together to get the most out of a retrospective. In reading it I noticed that the effect could be amplified by tying retrospectives together for another level of build-up, from one retrospective to the next.

It’s suggested by most Agile Coaches to only put in a couple of hours to prep for the Sprint review. I would invest up to three hours preparing for a good Sprint retrospective and another hour and a half to facilitate. I spent some more time writing up summary notes to help us remember decisions, and to help me design the next Sprint’s retrospective.

Communicating Results

At the end of the Sprint we would have our review and take feedback from our customer and others. When asked how we thought the Sprint went we could usually point out that we had once again met our commitment and if not, a quick explanation why not.

Further comments from the team, we insisted, would have to wait until we could have our retrospective. We decided in our retrospective what information we wanted to share out, which was mostly conclusions and next steps.

Better Interactions

Our team constantly improved from how we practiced retrospectives and we made a habit of relating afterwards how we felt about the Sprint. While we included feedback from Sprint review into our planning, we would also explain our plan for improvement that came out of the retrospective.

The questions dissipated and we could work without as much distraction. This allowed us to meet our commitment and celebrate it in the Sprint review.

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