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Atlassian Agile Corner Videos & Sprint Review Meetings! Edited

Amazing news! Atlassian has rolled out an initial 10-video series from their new Agile Corner. All 10 videos combined are approximately 35 minutes, so it doesn't take a ton of time to dedicate to watch the series and get a refresher on agile. While it only takes around 35 minutes to watch all the videos, I'd recommend only watching 1-2 videos per day. This will allow you to really reflect on what was covered, and consider areas for improvement in your own practices. 

As an agile practitioner for over 10 years and an agile coach in my present company, I've been around agile for a while, and while these videos were rather introductory, I still found each and every video beneficial to me and my teams! I hold regular 'Agile Coach AMA (Ask Me Anything) sessions' where we talk about many different concepts and interpretations of agile. Last week I dedicated a session to watching all 10 videos as a group. While the group did agree this was very rudimentary as far as agile topics go, they actually loved the 'covering the basics' aspects of these videos!

No matter how long you have been an agile practicioner, there is ALWAYS value in not only reviewing the basics, but also in seeing how others present the basics. You can always learn new things even from the introductory overviews because there is an importance in word selection, interpretation, and growth. With that in mind, I'd like to share some thoughts on one video in particular, the Sprint Review (more video reviews and discussions to come in the future).

Sprint Review Video (4:25)

Sprint Reviews are absolutely essential to successful scrum practices (and reviews in general for agile regardless of methodology you use), yet they are often forgotten or not fully practiced. This video covers the four primary aspects of the Sprint Review Meeting:

  1. What's "Done" and "Not Done"
  2. Demo the Work
  3. Review Key Metrics
  4. Review and Revise the Product Backlog

Seems pretty straight forward, right? So why is it that so few teams hold effective Sprint Reviews? From my experience, it's usually either time, or understanding. The Sprint Review is usually covered in most teams, but not as a dedicated meeting, but rather split apart and absorbed into other meetings. #1 and #3 are typically handled in the Retrospective in this scenario, #4 as a stand-alone Backlog Refinement Meeting, and #2 (if done) is done on it's own. There are any number of combinations, but so few have all four components together in one dedicated meeting.

It's frustrating to see, and usually a point of focus for any coach while working with an agile team. Why such a focus? How can you retrospect if you don't know both what was done, but also that it was the right thing done, as well as the most effective method to complete that work? Planning meetings also are significantly hindered without a good Sprint Review as you are left with a huge dilemma, which is nicely captured by P90X founder Tony Horton when he says "How do you know what to do, if you don't know what you did?"

Another aspect of the Sprint Review ceremony is highlighted in Megan's video, CELEBRATION! In our agile teams, we are usually so focused on the work and meeting customer and stakeholder needs, and tight windows and expectations, that we often forget to stop and celebrate the amazing work we are accomplishing. When is the last time you were in an agile team meeting and you actually applauded each other for work well done? Celebration is not only fun, but it actually can improve your team's happiness and health! When you are praised, your brain releases dopamine between neurons in your brain. Dopamine has tons of great benefits from feelings of happiness, to increased productivity and increased unity among your team members, so CELEBRATE OFTEN!

As you can see, Sprint Reviews are not a ceremony that can be chunked out and folded into other ceremonies. I really liked the video that Megan Cook has created, and recommend that you and your team not only watch this video, but also to review all the videos together and ask yourselves if your sprint ceremonies are truly effective, or if you are missing some important components!

Please post your thoughts below, let me know if you agree (OR DISAGREE, PLEASE DO!). I'd love to see tons of interactions on here between people to spread the agile happiness!

 

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