The image above uses quotes from the poem “It Couldn’t Be Done” by Edgar Albert Guest.
A fundamental part of Scrum is the ideal of continuous improvement. Scrum Teams are always getting better. That’s in part thanks to the Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective. In the Sprint Review, teams reflect on the work they did in the Sprint, evaluate changes in their environment, and decide on the next best piece of work to undertake. The Sprint Retrospective allows the team to inspect how they worked together during the Sprint and if there is anything they can do to improve their effectiveness. The special ingredient that makes these Scrum events successful is a healthy dose of positivity.
The individuals involved in these and other Scrum events must face complex challenges and ask and respond to difficult questions. We can make the process easier with a positive mindset.
Positivity provides several benefits.
Encourages sharing and collaboration
Open team communication is the path to identifying problems and finding solutions together. When team members remain positive, they are more likely to express their ideas and opinions without fear of judgment. This leads to a better exchange of ideas and a more comprehensive understanding of each other’s perspectives.
Fosters supportive relationships
Positivity also encourages people to work together towards common goals. Team members are more likely to support each other, share knowledge and expertise, and collaborate to deliver the best possible outcomes when the environment is positive. It contributes to feelings of unity and a shared sense of purpose, which leads to better team performance and productivity.
Aids receiving feedback
When team members are positive, everyone is more receptive to the feedback and evaluation essential for continuous improvement. A positive team environment encourages experimentation, learning, and growth because team members are more willing to try new approaches and learn from mistakes.
Finally, positivity contributes to overall team member well-being. When team members are positive, they are more likely to enjoy their work and feel fulfilled by their contribution to the team. Team motivation and engagement increase, leading to better work outcomes. A positive team environment can also help to reduce stress and improve mental health, leading to better job satisfaction and retention.
How to be positive
Every Scrum event benefits from a positive mindset, but the Sprint Retrospective, in particular, requires a sense of hope and optimism. In this event, we inspect ourselves and what we can do better. That’s never easy.
It is part of the Scrum Master’s accountability to set a positive, productive tone at the Sprint Retrospective, avoiding negativity and focusing on small improvements that can lead to significant gains over time.
Some wonder if you can maintain positivity while providing honest, candid, and critical feedback. Yes, you can. Let’s look at how to do it.
Start with encouraging feedback
Begin the session by asking team members to share what went well during the sprint. Focusing on the wins can set a positive tone and help build momentum for the discussion.
Use neutral language
When discussing areas for improvement, use neutral language that avoids blame or judgment. Instead of saying, “This didn’t work,” say, “We can improve here.” This approach helps focus the conversation on finding solutions rather than assigning blame.
Encourage active listening
Encourage team members to use active listening skills, and avoid interrupting or dismissing other people’s ideas. Make sure everyone has a chance to share their thoughts and feelings and that all opinions are considered respectfully.
Make sure to celebrate successes and accomplishments. Recognizing the team’s progress and hard work can boost morale and build a sense of unity and achievement.
Focus on actionable items
When discussing areas for improvement, focus on actionable items that the team can implement in the next Sprint. Concentrating on what the team can do keeps things upbeat and proactive rather than getting bogged down in negative thoughts.
Keep the conversation collaborative
Encourage the team to work together to develop solutions, ensuring everyone feels supported and valued. A great way to achieve this is to use facilitation techniques which encourage participation. Get the tools that you need to run effective meetings at Scrum.org’s new Professional Scrum Facilitation Skills course.
Keeping the Scrum events positive and productive is critical for maintaining team morale and productivity. By starting with what’s working well, using neutral language, encouraging active listening, celebrating successes, focusing on actionable items, and keeping the conversation collaborative, teams can make the most of their Scrum events and are more likely to continue to improve their processes over time.
Scrum Day 2023
Join us for a one-day Scrum conference to remove unconscious barriers to success and deliver value sooner for your customers. Scrum Day is scheduled for September 14, 2023, in Madison, Wisconsin.