Do we need to invite External Stakeholders to the Sprint Retrospective Meeting

Last post 01:51 pm September 3, 2019
by arvind pal singh
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10:22 am August 29, 2019

Hello All - 

I was involved in one of the discussions with Team on whether do we need to invite External Stakeholders to the Sprint Retrospective meetings or not.? As per my understanding, the retrospective must be with the Scrum Team = Development Team + PO. But not the Stakeholders because this is where we as a team will try to understand each other feelings, get best practices as outcome and also will get to a agreement on what should we stop doing as a Team.

I feel this need not to be exposed outside of the Scrum Team. We should invite Stakeholders to Sprint Reviews but not Retrospective 

Please let me know if my understanding is correct and also do let me know if there is any hidden advantage having stakeholders in the retro.

 

Thanks in advance

Aditya! 

11:42 am August 29, 2019

Your understanding of the Sprint Retrospective is generally consistent with the definition of the Scrum Guide - it's an opportunity for the Scrum Team to inspect relationships, processes, and tools in order to come up with things that went well and improvements and develop a plan for improving the team's way of working. But it sounds like the team thinks that there should be external stakeholders there. I'd want to explore this with the team by making sure they understand the purpose and intent of a Sprint Retrospective and why they think that having external stakeholders present can make this better.

01:38 pm August 29, 2019

Why does you team want stakeholders and others that are not part of the team to be involved in the Retro?

02:33 pm August 29, 2019

do we need to invite External Stakeholders to the Sprint Retrospective meetings or not.

Is their stake in the product, which the Scrum Team assures to be of a "Done" standard, or in how the team builds it?

If they have a stake in how the team builds the product, why?

03:10 pm August 29, 2019

How did this conversation come up?  What was the reason given by the team for having the external stakeholders participate in the Retrospective?  I feel your understanding of the purpose of the Retrospective is correct and suggest that you validate the team's understanding as it might not be the same. 

if there is any hidden advantage having stakeholders in the retro.

I cannot see any hidden advantage but have experienced issues from it.  I was taking over Scrum Master for a team after one of our Scrum Masters left the company.  In the first Retrospective I attended with the team I was surprised to see some of the stakeholders.  The entire event ended up being a refinement session and not a retrospective.  Not once did anything come up about how the individuals worked together. It was all about what kind of changes could be made to the product. This team had been struggling to complete work in sprints and deliver increments of usable product.  I immediately saw why that was the case.  I in the last 20 minutes of the event, I discussed this with all the attendees how the Retrospective was intended to be used and how I felt it was important for them to have true retrospectives. I was open with the stakeholders about how their involvement was not necessary and asked if they would all be willing to try the next 3 retrospectives as intended.  They all agreed. Three retrospectives later, without stakeholder involvement, the team was already starting to improve. The team and the stakeholders all agreed that it was better and decided to keep going with it.  They set up another meeting where the refinement was done.

I contacted the former Scrum Master and asked how the retrospective came to include the stakeholders.  Their response sounded very much like your original question and they admitted that they took the easy road instead of working with the team to understand the real intention of the Retrospective.  I am not saying that this will happen with you but it is something I have experienced. Talk to your team and come to understand why they are asking for it. There may be an impediment hiding that you can work on without changing the purpose of the Retrospective.

04:59 pm August 29, 2019

Is their stake in the product, which the Scrum Team assures to be of a "Done" standard, or in how the team builds it?

If they have a stake in how the team builds the product, why?

I don't believe that a stakeholder having a stake in how the team builds the product is sufficient for inclusion in a Sprint Retrospective. Coming from regulated industries, the organizations that I've worked in have had a process quality organization. The people who are part of process quality do have a stake in the processes and methods by which the product is built. However, that doesn't mean that they should be invited to or participate in a team's Sprint Retrospective. They are still external to the team and, generally speaking, the Sprint Retrospective should only include the members of the Scrum Team.

09:34 pm August 29, 2019

To use an analogy, is it a good idea to invite car buyers into an auto manufacturer's assembly-line worker meeting to discuss how things are going on the shop floor and potential improvements/experiments with how cars are assembled?

05:59 am August 30, 2019

@Daniel Wilhite

The Conversation came up after the team attended in-house Agile coaching by a experienced coach/Trainer. I raised the same point in the session that it's not a good practice to involve people outside the scrum team, but the coach justified his answer saying that there are situations where the key stakeholders can be invited to the meeting to see the team inter-personal, leadership skills. 

After the session, I assembled my team and asked what they feel about the session. Most of the team members said it was OK to involve the stakeholders but they couldn't justify their answers. I tried to explain the value of retrospective and people who to attend. In Meanwhile, thought of checking here as I would get suggestion from professionals. 

 

Thanks.

06:04 am August 30, 2019

@Curtis Slough

Why does you team want stakeholders and others that are not part of the team to be involved in the Retro?

 

My Team feels like, if we the stakeholders are involved then they can have more interaction with them and keep them engage to the project. This would help the team to have clear idea on what the Stakeholder expectations are and whether the increment meets his value in the Product backlog.

I have clearly communicated to the team, that it's the role of PO to maintain the Stakeholder engagement and invite them in PB grooming and Sprint review sessions to show how the increment is progressing. 

 

I believe I did my best to make them understand on the Scrum ceremonies and artifacts, but still there are few concerns by couple of team members and Iam trying to address them.

 

Thanks.

07:20 pm September 2, 2019

The purpose of the retrospective is to give the scrum team the best possible opportunity to inspect how it completes it's work and make adaptions to improve that. Inviting external stakeholders to that process inherently inhibits open, transparent discussion among the team, and should be discouraged.

05:04 am September 3, 2019

I think everybody is consistent in the replies above. In my knowledge, if there are senior members of the organization (like functional managers) team members may not feel that safe or secure in putting forward there thoughts with fear that it may irk some senior officials.