In Agile we try to create customer value in iterations. In order to get feedback as soon as possible those are as short as possible. The trend is to shorten the feedback cycles even more so that usually one week iterations became a good practice. Now there are situations where even one day is too long to get feedback. We have developed and successfully implemented a simple tool which we would like to share with you here.
A one week of sprint length still sounds very ambitious for some industries. In fact, most agile teams work with iterations of 1 to 2 weeks today. The main reason for this is usually that the feedback cycles can be shortened and thus the risk of delivering the wrong product or waste can be reduced. At the end of each iteration we also conduct a retrospective to improve the way we work together. This integrated continuous improvement process is certainly one of the most underestimated achievements of SCRUM and Agile. However, if we always do this just at the end of an iteration we usually have already forgotten what actually didn't go well on the first day and why.
Comparable to an iteration is the execution of an intensive 1-day workshop. Here, too, we usually only ask at the end about the state of the solution we have worked out and the cooperation. Most of the participants who are already tired give a positive feedback so that the workshop can be completed slowly. In no way do you want to open any further big discussions with your feedback to prolong the workshop. This is a natural behavior, but it does not serve the purpose. In extreme cases, we'll loose an entire day. But what is the solution?
Confidence Board - We need continuous feedback!
The last thing we need is another meeting or more overhead. The solution should therefore be lean, agile and situational. We already know methods such as FIST-of-FIVE-VOTING. We have extended this to include the fact that voting is simultaneously collected by various stakeholder groups and at the same time the whole historicisation process is being carried out.
How does this work out?
In a 1-day workshop, for example, the confidence for... can now be collected by the stakeholders at any hour or after each agenda point. These groups vote together and at the same time with an instrument that you always have with you - your hand. 1 is no confidence for... and 5 maximum confidence for... The average and a joint statement, if everyone agrees, is written on the Confidence Board and presented briefly. After all stakeholder groups have done so, this snapshot as well as the previous history will be reflected in a minimum time, e.g. 5 minutes. As a result, it is clear to all participants what needs to be improved in order to to achieve the workshop goal together. In extreme cases, this can lead to an early termination of the workshop as we might identify, that we're missing the right expertise. With some experience this usually takes only 5minutes.
Continuously confidence voting - Checklist
Identify the stakeholder groups (different colors)
Prepare the confidence board and think about good checkpoints (topics) if you already know them.
- Instructing the moderator
- Pick up the confidence votes per stakeholder group (e. g. 1-5) including 1 statement (each participant voted at the same time as Estimation Poker, the group decides together for 1 statement)
- reflect the votes and the history so far with all of them together
- Decide on common improvement measures to achieve the goal, or stop here.
Other areas of application
We use the confidence board intensively with partner evaluations to track the confidence and gut feeling of all parties. The feedback so far has been very positive on all sides, as it creates an open atmosphere of direct feedback from the people involved. We see further areas of application in e. g. dailies, customer workshops, team setup, etc.
We hope you can benefit from this and look forward to your experiences.