In my last post about Scrum ceremonies, I stated that there are communication opportunities in Scrum. At the time, I didn’t elaborate on what those opportunites are. So, here are four examples of communication opportunities in Scrum:
- Sprint planning meeting – In the first half of the sprint planning meeting, the Product Owner works with the team to identify the user stories that are right for the sprint product backlog. As they work through the process, the “why” begins to weave it’s way into the conversation. The Product Owner will deliver the “why” as part of the conversation. Most of the people I have coached are motivated by the “why”. The second half of the sprint planning meeting is devoted to the team for the purpose of self-organizing around the work. In addition to communicating with each other, the team may ask the Product Owner for further clarification on any ambiguities with the user stories.
- Daily standups – each team member communicates their status on a daily basis, along with any issues or roadblocks that may exist.
- Sprint Review – As the end of the sprint, the product owner and the stakeholders have an opportunity to view the outputs of the sprint. As a part of the demonstration of the new functionality, the Product Owner and Stakeholders provide feedback about the functionality.
- Sprint Retrospective – The Sprint team has an opportunity to discuss what they did right, what they did wrong, and what they can fix. The communication that results is a basis for the next sprint, as the list of potential improvements should be included in the next sprint planning meeting.
There are two more opportunities that most folks don’t realize. Using a couple of tools to estimate can provide unique communication opportunities. There are two versions of poker parties that are just as important as the Scrum ceremonies.
- Planning poker parties provide an excellent opportunity for the team and the product owner to communicate about the complexity of stories, along with the opportunity to get out of the day to day grind. I recommend treating this as a fun day. Buying lunch pays for itself as the team often will work through lunch.
- Business Value Poker parties are often overlooked as an opportunity to communicate, though the team is not usually involved. BV Poker can facilitate communication amongst the toughest group: The Stakeholders. Stakeholders usually consist of a variety of users from various disciplines. Some of the disciplines might include accounting, finance, IT, marketing, and the actual users. Surprisingly, I have found this group often does not communicate with each other effectively. Different actual users do not often communicate with each other either. Even though their ultimate goals are the same, their own interest often get in the way of real communication. Playing BV Poker , while important, pales in comparison to the benefit of having Stakeholders discuss their differences under the guise of discussing why they assigned a particular business value to a particular story.