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This chapter is from the book

Inspecting and Adapting Based on Feedback

Once you’ve released the product or demonstrated the product to stakeholders, you will have empirical data that you can use to confirm (or reject) your hypotheses. One data point in time usually doesn’t tell you much, but trends over time will show you whether you are getting better or worse in a particular dimension. And, remember, you may need different measures to really understand what is going on.

For example, you might have very happy customers who love your product, but no measures of their happiness will tell you why people don’t buy your product. If you want to expand your market share, you will need to measure more than the current value delivered by the product—that is, you will also need to understand which factors prevent you from realizing the full market potential of your product.15

As you are analyzing the value trends, consider what changes you released and when and how they may have impacted value. Consider what factors are beyond your control (e.g., a big decline in the stock market could impact users’ decisions even though you’ve implemented new features you expected to increase sales).

Learning as Value

Sometimes the value lies in the learning. This process may or may not be data-driven, but it can be helpful to be explicit about learning as the value. For example, a Scrum Team may want to learn which of two technology services will be easy both to implement and to enhance, while also meeting the business needs. In another example, a Scrum Team might want to learn which user experience is most likely to lead to a purchase.

Effective Sprint Reviews Include Value Realized

Recall that the outcome of a Sprint Review is adaptation of the Product Backlog. In addition to stakeholder feedback on the Product Increment and overall market trends, actual value data and trends give you even more empirical data to guide Product Backlog decisions.

Make your actual value measures transparent. Get input on what stakeholders see in the trends and how they think it should inform adaptation.

Gathering Stakeholder Feedback

How you approach gathering input from stakeholders will depend on many factors, including, but not limited to, the complexity of your product, the number of stakeholders you have, the diversity of stakeholder types and their needs, and where your stakeholders are located. You often need to pay special attention to stakeholders to gather the most valuable information from them. While they are usually quite expert in some area of interest, you might need to steer their attention toward the things about which you need feedback. Keep in mind that Sprint Reviews are not the only time Product Owners can get input from and collaborate with stakeholders. You will get more from stakeholder collaboration sessions in general, and Sprint Reviews in particular, if you can focus stakeholders’ participation in the following ways:

  • Be explicit about what you are reviewing and what feedback you are looking for. Having a simple but explicit agenda for feedback sessions helps everyone focus.

  • Make feedback sessions active, and encourage participation. People thrive on activity. Conversely, sitting passively, listening to someone drone on about features, functions, and capabilities, is often boring for participants. Organizing sessions in ways that force people to move will keep them more engaged, which in turn often saves time. Also, people are more likely to feel heard if they physically participated in an activity.

  • Enable stakeholders to collaborate with each other. Stakeholders can learn from each other. Not everyone shares the same perspective, and sometimes this results in conflicts that could be resolved if stakeholders understand each other’s perspectives.

  • Make collaboration visible. It is easier to discuss a wide range of ideas when we can see them in a physical space and easily add, update, and move information. In addition, this approach creates transparency into what we are trying to accomplish and what we learned together by the end. It is also helpful to have that vision and definition of value visible to keep things focused.

  • Break into smaller groups during a session. Smaller groups of people interested in particular topics are usually more effective than large group discussions. Allow time for them to have smaller group discussions and bring their results back to the group.

  • Introduce techniques that encourage relative value comparisons. It is easy to get bogged down in details, especially when discussing which PBIs are more valuable than others. By comparing value relatively (i.e., Item X is more valuable than Item Y but less valuable than Item Z), we can get enough information quickly.16

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