Facilitation Tips for the Sprint Review
How often have you thought: "This Sprint Review is useless and boring!" or "We are just reviewing
internally what we already have seen before as a Scrum Team. We have no new feedback. Let's skip
this event. Waste of time."
How can you avoid poor Sprint Reviews? How do we gather feedback from stakeholders? How do we
make this Scrum Event valuable and meaningful?
In this blog post, I will provide some facilitation tips and answers based on my experience and
Purpose of the event
Interestingly, the fundamental objective and outcome from the Sprint Review are often omitted or
ignored, or unknown by teams. The purpose of the Sprint Review is to gather feedback on the
Product Increment from stakeholders, consider current business conditions (like the use of the
product, competitors, sales, marketing, etc.), and plan what to do next.
Stakeholders, both internal and, in some cases, external, should be invited to the Sprint Review.
In some companies, customers and users are invited to the Sprint Reviews – if possible, depending
on contracts and other factors.
I still observe in some organizations that Scrum Teams show only a demonstration and code to
themselves. There are no stakeholders invited. Instead, Developers show code and tests to the
Product Owner. In this case, there is no true inspection and adaptation. The Product Owner should
not be surprised by the Increment. Opposite, the entire Scrum Team should look for feedback from
Once we realize the purpose of the Sprint Review, it is easier to facilitate this event.
◾ Think about the outcomes and purpose of the event.
◾ Have a scenario! I found it very useful to create a short strategy with what should be
discussed and what questions we are going to ask our stakeholders.
◾ Leave some space for stakeholders' questions, concerns, and new ideas.
◾ Be prepared for a discussion, not only a presentation.
◾ Be prepared with some facilitation techniques that are relevant to this event. (be careful, not
each facilitation method is appropriate for the Sprint Review).
◾ Maybe apparent for some of you, but still for me, worth mentioning to ensure stakeholders
◾ Think about the number of people. How many teams will be present? How many
stakeholders will come? Pick those techniques that are relevant to your situation.
◾ Create a safe environment that enables transparency. I am aware that in some organizations,
depending on the culture, initially, some stakeholders come to the Sprint Review with
different expectations, energy and attitude. I found setting up the scene upfront useful at the
first Sprint Reviews. It may include the event's purpose, the necessity of questions and
gathering feedback, inspecting the marketplace, business opportunities and technology, etc.
Think about what would be appropriate in your context.
◾ This is a collaborative session. Make sure that everyone can participate – or ask questions or
provide feedback. Please see some tips for techniques below.
◾ Encourage people to talk.
◾ Facilitate feedback visualization. It helps people to see what has been said before and
creates a space for creative ideas. In addition, it reassures that all feedback is gathered.
Remember, as a facilitator, you may ask someone to help you. Being a facilitator does not
mean that all scribe work belongs to you.
◾ Observe dynamics. If engagement decreases, react and act accordingly. Sometimes making
things transparent helps (What happened? Why this happened?).
◾ When relevant, ask open questions (What do you think? For what reason do you propose
this? What evidence do you have? What do customers say? How do they use the product so
far? What could change the status quo? What is the result of the experiments? What is the
progress toward the Product Goal?).
◾ Focus on value. Do not forget the most important thing for the Sprint Review – discussing
value and customers.
You may consider the following techniques for facilitating the Sprint Review. Remember to adjust
them depending on the situation and context.
◾ 124All – of the simplest Liberating Structure. Using this, you can make sure that everyone's
voice is heard. Be careful – overusing this structure may lead to boredom and force people to
create ideas when they are already done (overhead and waste of time). Choose wisely and
do not overuse.
◾ Working agreement –the powerful practice that may help you facilitate the Sprint Review
and other events. I have found it valuable to gather stakeholders and teams together. We
created the Working Agreements (for this event and future reviews as well). The result may
include the following rules:
-stakeholders provide feedback
-we all may ask questions
-discussion and evidence instead of unproductive quarrels
-share business perspectives
-share technology perspectives and feasibility
-at least one representatives from department X is present on Sprint Reviews
These are only my examples. You can create together completely different rules that are
relevant to your teams, stakeholders and situation.
◾ Graphic recording – besides writing down what was being said, consider graphic recording.
As above, as a facilitator, you do not need to be this person who draws or writes. Make only
sure that some recording is done. Graphic recording creates an excellent opportunity for
visualization differently from notes. It may open our brains to more ideas and creativity.
◾ Lean Coffee – this technique may structure your discussion when a group has a lot of
feedback, ideas and questions.
◾ 15% Solutions – this practice may narrow down plenty of action points (also can be great for
◾ Open questions – start with questions: what, when, why, from what reason, how. Close
questions use only if you want to confirm something or finish the activity.
Now, once you have come to know some tips, it is time to use them in practice! Try to rethink your
current style and take a look at this advice. I hope you find something you have never practiced so far
and will incorporate into your Sprint Reviews. Good luck!