Why you should always record your demo sessions

@KingaTest

Some time ago I had a pleasure to work with two brilliant teams as a Product Owner. The entire company was working on one product, so every team and the entire business was about to achieve a common goal.

Our cooperation was great, despite the fact that most of our business was working in different time zones.

It was quite a painful fact, because, the “common” time for demo sessions was outside everybody’s working hours – too late for us in Poland and way too early for the business. Everybody in the team were eager to present their fantastic work once per sprint, but at the same time the time was an obstacle.

It helped us came across a great and simple solution for demo sessions – recording. The tool was not so important, but we’ve been using Zoom meetings, if you’re interested.

How did it work?

We met at a certain hour, convenient for the team and did a proper session. If anyone from the business side was determined enough to take part – he could. If no one attended – the recording was sent to everyone interested. After that – we’ve gathered questions and comments after the session and explained them during the next session or during regular chats if they were straight-forward. It felt at bit awkward at the beginning, but after a few sessions both – the team and the business got used to it and felt comfortable with the solution.

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Of course, I, as a Product Owner, have been meeting the business anyway, so I was able to act as a middleware, if necessary 🙂

Additional benefits

There is more in the story apart from just recordings for the business. We’ve also archived all our demo sessions in Confluence to enable everybody to have access to it. Business, other teams, management and we were able to watch our recordings and learn from it.

Guess what? it started to work not only as a tool for demo and archive but also as training material for other interested parties – customers, support team, developers and testers. It was also fantastic for the new team members, as a base of their knowledge about the project and the product. This is great because our initial frustration was transformed into a valuable tool.

Since then I recommend everybody to record their demo sessions as the artefact they can be proud of. It might be not only evidence of their hard sprint work but also very beneficial for the entire organisation and yourself in the future.

Do you have any good experiences with recording your demo sessions?

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Retrospective – it matters the most

Is it me only, who thinks that this blog becomes more and more Agile than testing? 🙂

Anyway.

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The other day I was trying to describe myself in front of big audience – and I thought that the best sentence would be : a software tester, who fell in love with … agile methodology! 🙂 A friend of mine asked me if I am more a tester or more an Agile creature. As everyone is Agile now – I’d rather  stay with tester’s mindset but Agile way of work. Does it make sense?

Speaking of which – what is the most important meeting for you (if you work in Scrum, of course)?

For me, when thinking about Agile, the most important and valuable meeting that comes to my mind is RETROSPECTIVE. You may agree or not, stating who we are without daily? BUT in my opinion, a retrospective meeting is unique portion of time, when the whole team sits together and tries to improve.

Team as a choir

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Let’s imagine that a Scrum team is a choir.

It has to practice, sing and perform together, exchange ideas, spend a lot of time with one another. They do work.
On the other hand, each of choir members practices alone. Each of them knows his notes by heart and can perfectly sing solo parts, but at the end of the day – they have to perform in front of the audience. The performance of a choir is not a bunch of gathered solo parts – it has to sound as one! All voices complement each other and act like human orchestra. Can you imagine your team acting as one organism?

When thinking about this kind of approach – it may become obvious that scrum team has to seat together and have a common goal. For me, a retrospective meeting is that period of time, when a choir meets, has a rehearsal, spends time to improve and acts together.
I do believe that as  voice rehearsals are the most important times of choir work – as daily meetings and retrospectives have the same roles in scrum team lives.
It is all about acting together in order to improve.

The need for ritual

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In one of my favorite books about retrospective meetings – Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great (you can find it on Safari or Amazon) – retro meeting stretches across the whole sprint.
It is not just a meeting, of which everyone would not remember the next day. It lasts. The need for ritual is essential in preparation, conducting and improving. It is always about those three factors. That’s why everyone is welcome to come with his own opinion, problems and successes to the meeting. It is not supposed to be a one-man-show but a choir performance (or just a rehearsal 😉 Everyone is involved!

Leave your negative energy behind

How to act as a choir during retro? How many retrospective meetings, on which one person was a dominant do you have behind you?
Most of us have plenty of negative experiences connected with retrospective meetings (especially in Poland, when everyone is more tend to complain that to cheer up 😉 – please watch this YouTube video by Mark Walters to acknowledge what does the Polish Face mean 🙂 ). BUT complaining should not hijack the retro spirit !!!

Negative packaging is the first things the listeners see. Complain energy is tricky to handle. That’s why each of you should come to the meeting with your own mind. That’s why scrum masters use “stupid” games, “ridiculous” colorful sticky-notes and act (sometimes) like children :). Simply, in order to avoid a situation when only one person, one point of view and one problem matters. Everyone should be influential and benefit from the meeting.

A developer

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A development team consists of… DEVELOPERS! Brilliant, isn’t it? And as we all know – developers are the most open, cheerful and ready-to-speak up people in the whole universe!
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So… sorry, Scrum Maters, Product Owners and all business-related people – it is not an easy task for you to make them speak during  retrospective meeting:)
How can you encourage a technical person to do so?

Honor the heroes!

Bring sweets!

Hear success stories!

Don’t push!

Capture and analyze metrics  (technical people feel more comfortable with numbers)

Bring more sweets!

Always look on the bright side of life

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Exactly. Speaking, complaining and honoring mean nothing if you don’t benefit from it. Sooooooooooooo – get it done!

Collect ideas in order to improve. As a choir during rehearsals:

practice, improve, repeat

Summarize your thoughts in an email, wiki or any other source of common project knowledge. Make your ideas and improvements visible.

Buy yourself a whiteboard, prepare a virtual Jira board. Do at least one thing to emphasize your conclusions, enable each team member to have an access to it.
The more you know – the more you are able to improve.
And remember – your conclusions from Reareo No1 might be a great beginning of Retro No2 and so on. It is a circle and a teamwork.

Good luck! May the retro-force be with you.

In case of any ideas – don’t hesitate to stalk me on Twitter or comment down below. Cheers!