As you all know, Scrum events are prescribed by the Scrum methodology. These events enable transparency, inspection, and adaption, which are the three pillars of Scrum. In addition, they create structure and provide steady cadence. They are time-boxed to efficiently and effectively realize the events’ purpose.
However, if you are like me, you may find that after your nth time doing the same thing repeatedly, not only does it get a little tiring, but you find yourself going through the motions instead of thoughtfully engaging in the effort. Think about driving to work. How many of us, if we are honest with ourselves, are really paying attention to everything we are doing while driving to work? Routines are great in letting you get stuff done without thinking about it, but, it also puts us on autopilot, which results in us not really paying attention.
A note to all of you who are beginning your Scrum journey: My suggestion would be to keep the events as designed to create that needed “cadence” as you are learning new skills. Once the team’s skills strengthen, consider spicing up events a bit as you move forward to evoke new thinking and have a little fun! Here are some suggestions I’ve found effective:
1. Mix it up.
For some of us, there is nothing, and I say nothing, worse than boredom and monotony. Asking the same questions at your Daily Scrum meeting and Sprint Retrospective can get tedious really fast. Remember those Waterfall project status report meetings we all hated because everyone reported out like they were zombies from the latest apocalypse? Well, even though Agile events are time-boxed, short, and prescribed, it doesn’t mean we don’t get tired of hearing and responding to the same three questions in the same format.
To keep your Agile events fresh, try mixing up the questions, toss a doll, stuffed animal, or koosh ball to the next person who is next to speak. Add the question, “How confident are you in getting those tasks done today?” Mix up the three questions. Start each Daily Scrum with a corny joke! Reminder: The Daily Scrum is meant to inspect the last 24 hours and adapt to boost performance in the next 24 hours, so get the energy levels up. Stand up versus sitting. Sit on the floor. Do something different!
2. Try new techniques.
Research new interesting techniques, particularly for your Sprint Planning, Reviews, and Retrospective events. Try just one or two techniques now and then. You can overdo by introducing too many new techniques in a row.
Introduce techniques at various times when you think the team needs an injection of energy or they are in need of additional creativity. Make sure the technique is appropriate to the group, that you clearly understand how to use it and can explain it to the group, and that it provides value and serves the team’s goal. Encourage people to stretch outside their comfort zones, but don’t make anyone do something they feel is uncomfortable.
I was asked to sing one time and I refused. It was fortunate I said “no” for all those around me because I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, but I was mortified that I would be put on the spot like that. Your goal is to establish trust and to build a safe environment in which to share information and not to alienate anyone. Here are a few techniques worth considering:
- Sprint Planning: Create a unique name for the Sprint. To uncover risks, identify your Worst Nightmare about that Sprint. Tag Team (pair people up and have them review a story together. The pairs then present to the team).
- Sprint Review: Create celebrity user(s)! Have the PO demonstrate the product or do a themed presentation.
- Sprint Retrospective: This event has a wealth of fun techniques you can use. Here are just a few. Force field (forces propelling us toward “success” and those actively working against us). Use analogies (e.g., the last sprint was like an… animal, movie, book, superhero). Treat the Sprint like a movie and ask each member to write a movie review and critique themselves in the starring role.
3. Bring treats.
You must be judicious on your implementation of this idea. Don’t bring anything which makes people sit down or is time-consuming to eat. In addition, if you routinely bring treats, team members will start to expect it, which can get expensive! When you do provide treats, think of things that are handy and small, such as small bite-sized candy, cookies, donuts, pretzels, or trail mix.
I don’t know what it is, but bringing food or snacks seems to put everyone at ease and in a good mood. So, think of bringing snacks to your next Scrum Review or Retrospective. Added caution – find out if anyone has food allergies to avoid “allergy-related” events (not the sort of events we want to be associated with!).
Most importantly, whatever you do – HAVE FUN!
If you are interested in more creative ideas to add some spice to your Scrum events, attend our upcoming webinar in October, Tips for Facilitating Scrum Events, or attend our Training Tapa Facilitating Scrum Events.
Have some other creative ideas? Please provide them in the comments below.