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Another tool to display Sprint progression besides the burn-down chart

Last post 04:49 pm May 13, 2020 by Ian Mitchell
7 replies
07:19 pm May 6, 2020

I am fairly new Scrum Master over two teams (2 months). I have a mentor that has been teaching me the framework of Scrum. In our recent Sprint Retrospective, my mentor went over how the sprint was a success but the way the work was delivered was not team focused and was not working as a cross functional team. The Development team won't tackling user stories as a team but tackling them as individual pieces of work which caused incremental of work being delivered a week at a time instead of our 1-3 day planned increment release. It showed in our burn-down chart because the first week of the burn-chart was a completely flat line. My mentor began to explain this to the team during the sprint retrospective but quickly the team got defensive and decided that they did not want to see the burn-down chart anymore. We thought we did a good job of explain that the burn-down chart is just a tool to show where the team stands and not a tool to tell if the team was doing bad or good over the last couple of weeks of starting Scrum. We never portrayed the burn-down chart in an aggressive manner.  We made sure the team knew that the sprint was a success and overall the team did a great job, but even with that in mind, the team still felt the burn-down chart was demoralizing. We stood on the idea that the Scrum team needs the burn-down chart for transparency and a way to see our progression towards our sprint goal but ultimately we decided the fight for burn-down chart would caused too many problems and forwent the chart altogether. Now we are trying to found another way or tools to show our sprint progression towards our goal in the meantime. Any idea?

11:18 pm May 6, 2020

There are other tools to make progress transparent, but is that really the issue? If there isn't trust and safety within the Scrum Team, perhaps no tool will work because transparency would be lacking without trust.

And is this mentor part of the Scrum Team? If not why is he or she at the Sprint Retrospective to begin with?

01:09 pm May 7, 2020

Yes the mentor is part of the Scrum Team. We are a very small company and before I joined the company, he held two titles. One being the Scrum Master, so now that role is slowing falling upon me and he is now on the development team. 

02:03 pm May 7, 2020

How are we defining (read - 'deciding') if the Sprint was a success? Who are 'we' here? Did the team observe what was reported back to them? Have they come up with some alternative to how they wish to show progress?

03:03 pm May 7, 2020

We are labeling a sprint as a success if the sprint goal was met via the Product Owner. As for "we", I am talking about me and my mentor. The team observed what was reported but still felt that the burn-chart was not needed. One team member suggested using the cumulative flow diagram built into Jira, but that does not focus on the current sprint and team backlog. It gather data from other sprints and the other team's sprint backlog, so me and my mentor decided that the cumulative flow diagram was not an accurate replacement. 

03:13 pm May 7, 2020

Have you ever tried looking at aging your work in progress?  Showing how long items sit in each stage of your workflow can lead to conversations about how to get items through faster.

I was recently introduced to the TWIG game.  (  It helps people see how limiting work in progress can be effective.  

You might consider reading the book Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability (  It is a good read for learning other ways of tracking effectiveness other than burndown charts. 

06:38 pm May 8, 2020

Landon - here you go, your team member suggested it so you should give it a try, inspect and see how it goes. BTW, Cumulative Flow Diagram shows for the current sprint also, wherein you can have visibility around Cycle Time and WIP across your workflow. Something which Daniel is also suggesting.

04:49 pm May 13, 2020

Now we are trying to found another way or tools to show our sprint progression towards our goal in the meantime. Any idea?

How about demonstrating each work item as it is completed, to the satisfaction of known acceptance criteria, early and often?

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