Skip to main content

Sprint Review Meetings

At the end of every sprint my team has a sprint review.  It’s been a bit of a tradition and I think
everyone agrees that we all got a lot out of it.  People share best practices, things to watch out for and generally check in with each other. To have a great review meeting you need to get people to open up. How do you create a comfort zone where people can speak up? It is the sticky issues that generally slow people down, annoy them and sometimes cause people to quit their job.

Here are a couple of tricks I’ve accumulated over my twelve years of management:

Ask people to write things that they consider “accelerators” and “blockers” on sticky notes.  Ask them to come up with at least 2 of each.  It will take a little effort on everyone’s part but it’s better to have a bunch of things that are minor rather than miss one major issue.  Somehow writing things on a sticky note and not adding your name to it makes people more comfortable than speaking up in front of everyone.  After everyone has their stickies, I ask people to randomly put them into two areas of the whiteboard.  This generally gets the group going with ideas for improvement and shared lessons.

Second tactic that I’ve employed is asking people what they learned in the last iteration.  I found that for technical folks it’s easier to say: “I learned that the build is really unstable” rather than “you know that our build system is total crap” in front of people who might actually be maintaining the system.

Last method, which I rarely use, but it could work for a distributed team is SurveyMonkey.  Any anonymous system where you can create a safe environment is a great way to get your team to talk.

How about your team?  How do you get opinions from everyone?  Get in touch with me via twitter @mikebz, post a comment on www.mikebz.com or find me in other ways.

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

SDET / QA Engineer Interview Checklist

After interviewing and hiring hundreds of engineers over the past 12+  years I have come up with a few checklists.  I wanted to share one of those with you so you could conduct comprehensive interviews of QA Engineers for your team.

I use this checklist when I review incoming resumes and during the interview.  It keeps me from missing areas that ensure a good team and technology fit.  I hope you make good use of them.  If you think there are good questions or topics that I have missed - get in touch with me!


SDE/T or QA Engineer interview checklist from Mike Borozdin
If you like this checklist you might want to check out these posts:
Emotional Intelligence in Software Teams  and Good-bye manual tester, hello crowdsourcing!

Highly Effective Software Teams

A few weeks ago our Board of Directors asked me to present my assessment of the state of software.
 I was hired to organize and grow the software team and the directors wanted to know what kind of a team we needed to build.  I was hoping that I can just reference an article somewhere that would give me the answer, unfortunately I didn’t find anything suitable. During my research I did find some great material that will be helpful if your job is to put together a highly effective software team.
A highly effective software team has the following key characteristics: dependable, committed to shared goals, passionate about technology, respectful and compassionate.  These are not limited to technology industry, it can easily apply to finance, medicine, or sports as well.  Below is the summary and references that I found. Dependable If you are creating a software product, you need to deliver your software to your users.  Your users need to know that you are able to solve their problems on …

There are Only Two Ways to Treat Your Team

There are only two ways to treat your team: take care of them or let them go.  Early in my management career there have been times when someone has been underperforming on the team.  Before I knew better I let my emotions get the best of me: I’d give them the cold shoulder, avoid including them in conversations and look like I was upset with them. Thankfully with some good mentorship I came up with a simple rule: we are helping each other or you are off the team.

One of the biggest mistakes that folks make a lot of times is letting people linger on for too long.  Hiring good engineers is hard and getting new folks up to speed is hard.  You feel like you are going to miss your product delivery plan if you let someone go.

Letting folks linger when you are unhappy with each other creates a toxic environment.  This toxic environment is generally contagious and brings the entire organization down.  Of course you can’t have a constant state of euphoria on your team, but if a productive and…