A Sprint Review is not a Signoff Meeting

Some bad ideas just seem to live forever, here is one of them: sign-off during Sprint Review. But let me start with a short, true story:

Last week I was invited to a Sprint Review Meeting to give some feedback and offer ideas for improvement. There were about twenty people in the room, some managers, some collegues from other teams, some stakeholders, and, of course, the Scrum Team themselves. Things started pretty smoothly, the ScrumMaster gave a short overview of the items planned for the Sprint, and then the Development Team presented  these items. I could see some happy faces among the stakeholders, but nobody asked them for feedback. Instead, the ScrumMaster asked the Product Owner if the item was done. The PO was somewhat hesitant, opened his laptop to check some notes and started to discuss the acceptance criteria with the team member that had demoed the item. Finally he decided that the item was not really officially done, but good enough to be waived through. A stakeholder protested, and the discussion continued. The meeting was derailing quickly. At the end of the timebox, everybody was exhausted and frustrated, only dreading the rest of the day with the retrospective and the planning for the next sprint still lying ahead.

This is NOT how it is supposed to be!

The team had done some really important things quite right like

  • actually having stakeholders outside the Scrum Team at the review
  • letting the development team demonstrate the new features
  • showing a real product during the review.

But they had been mistaken about one thing: the Sprint Review is NOT meant to be a signoff meeting. Of course, it should be made transparent, which items are done, and which are not done. But the Product Owner should bring this information to the Review, having clarified it with the team during the Sprint. This has two main advantages: first, the feedback loop is drastically shortened, enabling the team to fix an item considered not done when shown to the Product Owner for the first time. Second, during the review the Scrum Team can focus on the real purpose of the meeting: to obtain feedback on the product and to come up with ideas how to use the next sprints in a better way than previously planned.

For more information about the purpose and recommended content of the Sprint Review, just take the time to have a look at the Scrum Guide.