A panorama of the three rooms put together for the B.I.E.R.-Fest where all teams had their stand

Reviews: from sad to wonderland in 1 move

It’s a sad world.

Like seemingly many other companies and Scrum teams, we – the MYTOYS GROUP shop IT development department – struggle with the implementation of our sprint reviews. Not only do we have 2 weeks sprints, which sometimes means that we have very little fancy stuff to show, but we also have 7 development teams continuously delivering new features to our customers. Even with a one hour review, this means that our stakeholders may have to attend to reviews for 3.5 hours every week without being even sure that anything relevant for them will be shown.

On top of that, it’s close to impossible for the teams themselves to see what their colleagues from other teams are working on.

All in all this led a few months back to the very sad situation that our reviews weren’t attended at all (you would get one visitor on lucky days) and that the teams all lost the motivation to show the latest developments of their product. In short: it was a sad world.

 

Let’s grab some B.I.E.R.

Fortunately the wild Internet is full of people burning to share ideas and experiences and this also applies to agile changes, processes and practices. Amongst those people belong our colleagues from XING who reported similar experiences (you can read the excellent article here), as well as what they’ve been doing to improve the situation, how it failed on the long run and how they came up with a really nice sexy cool fancy idea: turn the reviews into a beer festival!

The idea is simple: like in a fair or a festival, each team gets a stand at which they can display their latest developments, show what they have on their product roadmap, make a bit of marketing for their features while the visitors freely roam around, going from team to team, just grabbing the information relevant for them and getting insights on what’s going in the shop IT department as well as come into cozy discussions with the teams.

We presented the idea to our development teams and product owners who all gave positive feedback. Hence we simply did it.

A panorama of the three rooms put together for the B.I.E.R.-Fest where all teams had their stand
A panorama of the three rooms put together for the B.I.E.R.-Fest where all teams had their stand

(Note: this is actually a standard in the LESS framework, known as the Sprint Review Bazaar)

 

Oh happy day!

The 1st edition of the MYTOYS GROUP B.I.E.R.-Fest has been a huge success. Already during the preparation there was a sort of healthy competition taking place between most teams about which team would come up with the coolest stand. This led to very creative ideas and a colorful fair. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, both from the teams as from the visitors.

A glimpse into the feedback from the attendants (negative ones are “where is the beer?”, “use a bigger room” and “invite more people”)
A glimpse into the feedback from the attendants (negative ones are “where is the beer?”, “use a bigger room” and “invite more people”)

On top of the written feedback, we could gather additional positive effects from informal discussions or simple observations:

  • Direct feedback/discussion canal between business and IT
  • All teams could get insights into what other teams do
  • A wide variety of formats is available for the presentations (posters, self-service devices, small games, open discussion)
  • Thanks to the flexible format (come and go as you like), the attendance was huge (almost 80% conversation rate from the invitations)
A mix of many presentation forms at one stand: posters with KPI, interactive screen with technical insights, a game about the shop design
A mix of many presentation forms at one stand: posters with KPI, interactive screen with technical insights, a game about the shop design

All in all, this was a very positive experience. We will definitely do it again, tweaking a few things (invite even more people, suggest to the business departments that they make their own stands, get bigger rooms). Maybe we’ll even convince the other IT & business departments to participate. Maybe it will become a company-wide event?

But when the time is right, we’ll have to come up with something different again. Maybe the wild Internet will help us again, or maybe we’ll be the ones helping this time.

All this is not about finding the right solution, it’s about using the right solution at the right time.

 

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