For anyone working in an Agile/Scrum environment it’s probably a well-known mantra: show off work early and often, receive feedback and improve. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. But how do we do this effectively within a company?
Oftentimes sharing teamwork within a company comes in the form of a demo at the end of the Sprint, the demo being a static Powerpoint with a presenter presenting and an audience…listening. This presentation is hopefully open to everyone in the organisation and the audience consists of colleagues from various departments.
But do these people feel like they can ask the questions (even the ones they feel are ‘stupid questions’) and give the feedback they have in front of a bigger audience? How do we adjust the demo-material to everyone’s level of knowledge? And does a developer in your team feel comfortable standing in front of a 30+ audience?
What if we could convey the information from that Powerpoint through engaging, personal interaction? This is the idea behind what is called the ‘Bazaar’ demo-format. With this format we will have people across departments interacting directly in a fun and easy-going way. Let me show you how you can run your very own Bazaar.
What is a Bazaar?
A Bazaar is like a market, a space where teams shows off their work as a market-seller spreads out his wares. Each team will get a booth where they can set up anything that helps them present what they have created the past iteration(s). The audience will walk around seeing what’s on offer and be invited to engage in direct conversation, try out the products and encouraged to give feedback.
How to get started
For the first iteration, invite around 4–5 teams to participate in the event. Ask them to list the top 3 features they worked on the past iteration(s), omit bug fixes and software updates. Work with the teams (and ideally their Scrummaster to assist you) to come up with ways to make the work visual and ideally tangible.
With this I mean: how can we let the audience interact with what we’ve built? If we build an application we want to put a device (phone, tablet, laptop etc.) in someone’s hands and ask them to try out our new feature — or better yet let them scan a QR-code and try it out on their own device, can you imagine the amount of different device testing you get for free with this?
If we are still in the (UX-)design phase, let’s print out those designs on A3 paper and hang our new user-flow at our stand. We just wrapped up a successful market campaign? We could make a fun, interactive quiz about the results and generate ideas how to move the needle with the next campaign. It’s up to the team and their creativity to shape their own stand, challenge them to be the most fun, popular and best-visited market-sellers.
Each single person in your company can give valuable feedback, regardless of their position or level of experience.
Making a splash
Who do we want as an audience for our Bazaar? Everyone! Each single person in your company can give valuable feedback, regardless of their position or level of experience. Think about the benefits when Customer Care sees what IT is releasing, customers will probably start calling about this new product or feature soon. Or how IT could look at what Marketing is making and help automate sales processes. We need everyone’s point of view to make our products even better.
That’s why we need to make sure we have enough exposure. How do we do that? Marketing. Start an internal marketing campaign to create a buzz for your event: hang announcement posters in the coffee corner, visit key stakeholders and ask team leads to encourage their teams to join. Get representatives from remote offices to come to the event so they’re not feeling left out. Also, don’t forget about the Management team and the CEO: this is the perfect moment for them to go to the gemba and see the work that teams do on a daily basis.
To establish the Bazaar-concept within the company, you’ll first need to make clear to everyone what the benefits are and why it’s worth their time. Communicate clearly what’s in it for them and how this will help the company move forward. And how about sweetening the deal with a little something extra. Prizes, everyone loves to win something right? Pique their curiosity by mentioning there will be prizes given out, more about this later.
Start the event by gathering everyone in the central area to explain what the purpose of the Bazaar is (“The teams are excited to show their latest work and receive your feedback to make it even better”) and why this is a good idea (“By receiving feedback from different disciplines we improve our products and create synergy throughout the company”).
Ask the team (or a representative) to come up and share what they will be showing off at their stand. Encourage teams to draw the crowd by giving an enthusiastic pitch so they become the most popular stand everyone wants to go to that day. Highlight that there will be sharpies and stickies at each stand to write down their feedback, the teams will be collecting the feedback themselves.
Communicate clearly when everyone is expected back in the central area for the prize-ceremony and wrap-up: we usually give between 1–1,5 hours (depending on the the amount of teams presenting) for the crowd to walk around the stands. Then it’s show-time, ask the crowd to spread around the stands and have fun!
During the event the organisers/Scrummasters can assist by walking around the stands, there are always people with questions or remarks.
If you’re doing this event at the end of the day provide soft drinks, beer and snacks to create a relaxed and fun atmosphere. If you’re starting early morning, why not make it a Breakfast Bazaar with fresh croissants and juices.
When everyone is back in the central area it’s time for the prize-ceremony. We can give out prizes for best feedback given, most creative stand, you name it: celebrate success and show appreciation for people’s time and effort. Let the team (or their Product Owner) hand out the prizes for the best feedback together and let them emphasise this feedback will be going onto the backlog to make the product even better. Can you imagine how appreciated people will feel when their feedback is chosen? I’ve seen big smiles, ear to ear!
The prizes themselves could be an award to put on their desks or even better, a voucher to grab a coffee with their colleagues — letting them connect with the people around them.
Now wrap-up the event by thanking everyone for their time and effort and put a feedback box at the exit so you yourself can get feedback on the event itself to make the next edition even better (practice what you preach!). Make sure there are snacks and drinks left, people often want to hang around and chat afterwards which means they feel comfortable — exactly the atmosphere we want to create in our company (the benefits of this I’ll keep for a different article).
- Make sure to not put the stands too close: people need space to stand and be able to hear each other properly.
- Ask colleagues from the Marketing- and Design departments to help you with the branding and promotion, this will make the event look more professional
- If teams are not cross-functional within the company, try to have teams from different departments present their work to foster cross-pollination
The Bazaar-event is a great way to let teams show off their work, be proud of what they create and get valuable feedback in the process. Next to that it’s also a way to break the silos that might exist in your organisation — how often does someone from Finance exchange ideas with a programmer down on the IT floor? It’s a win-win situation.
I hope you liked the ideas and learnings I put in this article and would love feedback or hear your experience after you try out your very own Bazaar.