Welcome to PremierAgile! Chat with our learning advisor to avail Upto 15% discount across all Scrum Alliance courses Recognised as “Best Agile Consulting and Transformation companies - 2022” by BusinessConnect Magazine Avail Zero Interest EMI Please hurry!!! Take Advantage of a Flat 20% Discount & Stand Out as an Advanced Certified Scrum Master Mega offer! Save upto INR 22,000 when you buy our Advanced course combo packages

PremierAgile

With an objective to enable continuous learning and progression for our learners, PremierAgile curated several learning articles. Out of a wide range of topics, you can choose to learn from the real-world experiences by practitioners in the areas of Agile, Scrum, Product Ownership, Scaling, Agile Leadership, Tools & Frameworks, latest market trends, new innovations etc.

Tips for Facilitating Scrum Events

Among the different services offered by a Scrum Master to the Scrum Team, the facilitator is a function he/she takes up. In turn, they can ensure the effective working of the Scrum Team. Even, facilitation by the Scrum Master will help Scrum Teams achieve synergy and collaboration. When they takes up the role as a facilitator, the Scrum Master works as a neutral party. In other words, they does not advocate the own agenda or take up any sides.

Teams generally carry diverse experience, knowledge and skills that contribute to different ideas. Nevertheless, not all ideas are shared and judged naturally. To prevent the non-expression and non-identification of good ideas, the Scrum Master leads the facilitation session. During this session, they will drive team members towards inclusive, open and fair decision-making after discussion. By doing this, Scrum Master makes sure that every team member gets space for sharing ideas. This session functions not only as a framework to solve an issue or achieve a target. But also it functions as a chance to strengthen the ability of the Scrum Team to work together and collaborate. To help Scrum Masters, here are some Scrum Events facilitation tips. Nevertheless, before getting into the tips, it is better to be aware of some qualities of good facilitation:

A good Facilitator ensures that:
  • Every member of the team should take part
  • Each participant should get time to react
  • Due respect should be given to the opinion of every participant by other participants
  • Valid questions should be asked by the organizer to draw ideas from participants
  • Every participant pays attention
  • Space for diverse opinions
  • An agreement should denote a wide coalition of ideas
Tips for Effective Facilitation of Scrum Events:

Now, you know what makes a good facilitation session. Nevertheless, how to make the facilitation session effective will be your question. Here are some Scrum Events facilitation tips to help you:

  • Start in an informal tone. When you jump straight into official discussions, there are chances that the participants will lose interest and they won’t feel connected. To gain their association spend a few minutes to connect with audience. For instance, you can ask questions like “what is your favorite dish?”, “Where were you during your last vacation?” and similar fun and personal discussion will make participants feel connected.
  • Now, state the purpose of the meeting. In general, each Scrum Event should begin with a specific objective. When you are evident in this, you can prevent the discussion from getting into topics that should be discussed in a different Scrum Event.
  • During the meeting to make sure that everyone participates actively, you can use visual collaboration tools. If you are in the same room, sticky notes and a whiteboard can help. But, if the meeting is virtual, you can use tools like Google docs, Miro and Mural, where everyone can work at the same time on the same document.
  • Make sure that all voices are heard. When the team is silent when you are discussing something, intervene and give space for the participants to talk. If one person is louder, respectfully ask him/her to provide space for others to share their views.
  • Make sure to set a timebox for each topic or agenda. Otherwise, it will go on and on. If a timebox takes longer to conclude, you can either ask a volunteer to follow up or can opt for a smaller timebox to conclude.
  • If the discussion goes off-topic, put it aside for discussion later in a separate Scrum event.

Finally, once the meeting is over, you may ask each member to give a score between 1 and 5 to denote the return on the time they have invested. Here, if the score is 1, they feel that this session has wasted their time, while a score of 5 denotes that the session is worth every second. If the average score is poor, as a Scrum Master, it is time for you to find ways to improve future facilitation. Otherwise, you also have the option to take the idea to another retrospective.

Tips for Effective Sprint Planning:

Here is a step-by-step guide for effective Sprint Planning:

First Step: What is the Purpose of Sprint Planning?

An outcome-based Sprint goal is essential. The Product Owner may suggest this by defining the value to be delivered to stakeholders and the Scrum Team should discuss and come to an agreement by the end of the Sprint Planning.

Second Step: Things to do this Sprint:

Before the beginning of Sprint Planning, the team under the leadership of the Product Owner should have finished the refinement of the Product Backlog. Only then, they can give importance to crucial items on the backlog and prepare a list for the forthcoming Sprint event. After this, the Developers identify the number of items that can be delivered in this Sprint. These Developers include Developers with all skill sets and roles taking care of delivery. They will make appropriate adjustments to the Sprint goal if required.

Third Step: Ways to Complete the Work:

For each backlog item, some teams would wish to spot detailed low-level tasks. Also, the leaders of these teams ask the members to assign themselves to specific tasks, while the other members of the team stay comfortable. They have more fluid task assignments and fewer details. The idea here is at least each member of the team should be aware of what he/she will be doing for the initial few days of the Sprint.

Fourth Step: Conclusion:

Finally, the refinement of Sprint goals based on outcome should take place. To make sure that each member of the team is aware of the Sprint plan and goal, they can be asked to mark their confidence either by giving a thumbs up or thumbs down.

Daily Scrum:

The Developers generally take care of the Daily Scrum and they call upon the Scrum Master to assist only when needed. The level of support they need from the Scrum Master generally differs based on the experience of the team. For instance, a new team will need active facilitation. On the other hand, an experienced team may not even call upon the Scrum Master to assist. The Developers should take the following points in a Daily Scrum for forming a consensus:

  • How about the progress of the team towards the Sprint Goal?
  • What will be the team doing in the next 24 hours?
  • What help might be required from the Scrum Master?
Tips for Daily Scrum:

Here are some Scrum Events facilitation tips for Daily Scrum:

The Daily Scrum involves a quick association with the team. The objective is to get the work going without any hindrance. Also, it involves making appropriate adjustment plans so teams will be in a position to reach the Sprint Goal. Here, most Agile experts will be aware of the format called “Three questions”. Nevertheless, this approach can make the Daily Scrum boring. So, if you are an Agilist, you can try starting with the Product Backlog item with the highest priority. Now, ask the team members what can be done to finish the items. 

Other Useful Tips for Daily Scrum:

To make the Daily Scrum fun-filled, it is better to have a code word to stop the conversation when it is going off. You can alert the team members to use this code whenever the discussion is getting into unwanted terrain.

In case, an impediment or hindrance comes up and a resolution cannot be reached within 30 seconds, the Daily Scrum can be concluded. But, it can continue with only a few participants, whom you wish to take part.

Sprint Review:

The purpose of the Sprint Review is to inspect the increment via adaptation and feedback on the Product Backlog if required.

During this review, the focus of the facilitator should be to make sure of a participative, energetic and engaging atmosphere. If you are the facilitator, you should motivate listening vs. Reacting. Your responsibility is to actively hear the team members and give importance to building synergy between the Scrum Team, Stakeholders and Sponsors. If you face trouble making sure of the participation of users and Stakeholders at the time of Scrum review, the tips given below will help:

  • You can motivate people to interact with the product
  • You can try following 1-2-4 all Sprint Review. With this techniqes, you can make sure that everyone is involved and all opinions and voices are appreciated and heard. It will help with gathering suggestions, ideas and questions from all participants.
  • Try following a World Cafe Sprint Review. It is a format, where you will use an informal cafe setting with other participants to discuss an issue in small table groups. In this format, you will discuss in multiple rounds of around 20-30 minutes. The good thing about this format is that the cafe setting will let all participants engage in open and relaxed coversation.
  • You can also consider the following Sprint Review Bazaar Format. This format is where the review is conducted in a diverge-converge meeting pattern. At the time of diverge, you can use a bazaar. It is nothing but an analogous to science fair which means that it will have a large room with many areas. Each area will have teams with representatives. Each group will discuss an item developed by a team, where stakeholders visit the groups that impress them. At the time of converge, stakeholders express their opinions from the bazaar. At this time, a subset of items may be evaluated via a computer projector held commonly for all groups.
Sprint Retrospective:

The Scrum team members might be aware fo certain challenges but at times, they might not be aware. It is the responsibility of a Scrum Master to act as a mirror here. Yes, they must reveal to the Scrum Team about the challenges. The team members should get the opportunity to understand how they are presently performing. They can get to know this with the help of a retrospective format designed by the Scrum Master. When they understand how they are performing, they can come to a consensus on what action should be taken. At times, as a Scrum Master, you will have to design retrospectives around a particular theme or topic in response to a situation faced by the team. Otherwise, the Scrum Master will have the option to keep the format open and permit the team to pay attention to an issue that they identify during the event.

If you are a Scrum Master, you can act as a facilitator or a contributor during a Scrum Retrospective Event. During this event, items like technology, tools, processes and how the team collaborates should be decided and concluded.

Conclusion

Effective facilitation is a skill that needs a combination of techniques and practice. Most importantly, it can have a huge impact on the satisfaction and productivity of the team. If you intend to become a great Scrum Master, it would be better for you to spend not only time but also effort to turn out to be a skilled facilitator.

Reference
  1. https://agility.im/frequent-agile-question/how-do-scrum-masters-facilitate-events-decision-making/
  2. https://www.scrum.org/facilitation-techniques-scrum-events
  3. https://resources.scrumalliance.org/Article/tips-facilitating-scrum-events

Author

Paula

Is a passionate learner and blogger on Agile, Scrum and Scaling areas. She has been following and practicing these areas for several years and now converting those experiences into useful articles for your continuous learning.