Sprint demos are a measure of team health
The output of the sprint demo is the customer value delivered, but the goal of the session is very different.
I’ve been on teams that demo every sprint, teams that demo if they have something they think stakeholders will care about, and some that don’t demo at all.
I’ve come to realise that the value in the demo is not the opportunity to update stakeholders. It’s the contribution it makes to the health of the team.
Here are a series of ways that the demo helps assess and improve team health.
Sprint demos prove we’re regularly shipping value
There are other more formal ways to keep track, but if a team is demoing we’re delivering value every time. The ‘no demo this week’ cancellation is usually a sign the direction isn’t quite right, or tasks are too large to be part of a healthy sprint cadence.
Sprint demos are a team celebration
You’ll probably have stakeholders at your demo but I don’t believe they are the focus. The demo is about the team celebrating success. It’s nice to share with the stakeholders, but it’s more important that the team looks together at the what / why / how.
If your team doesn’t want to demo it may be a sign that they don’t see how the work fits into your strategy. Or, that the balance between informal internal sharing and stakeholder ‘presentation’ isn’t quite right.
Sprint demos enable all team members to share
The sprint demo is an opportunity for everybody to share. They are regular and informal so it’s a great way to build confidence talking about and showing work.
Individual team members not regularly demoing could be an indicator of a wider issue.
Sprint demos are light touch stakeholder interactions
With a focus on the team it doesn’t matter too much to me if we get stakeholders regularly attending demos or not.
But, where they do it’s a fantastic way for the whole team to get to know them outside of more formal company presentations.
‘Informal’ is the key when setting expectations with stakeholders. Demos should be quick and easy, nobody wants to lose time every 2 weeks prepping a detailed slide deck.
I’m sure there are many more reasons I haven’t yet considered and listed here. The demo is an important part of the product cycle, and teams are better for the experience.