Sprint 0 Exercise: Headline News – 352 Noodles & Doodles

A few weeks ago, one of our developers talked about how we use Sprint 0 as a launching point for each of our development projects. It’s our chance to get to know the client’s needs and incorporate project stakeholders into the decision-making process before we hit the ground running with development. But how do we work with clients and stakeholders to make sure we have a full image of the project? We utilize a handful of exercise to initiate discussion and identify areas that may need more attention, and we’ll be showing some additional exercises over the next 2 weeks.. While these exercises are not original, we have done some customization to fit our process. The first of these is the Headline News exercise – find out more below.

Transcript below.

Image credit: Tomislav Mavrovic

 

[Jennifer Fix:] Hello my name is Jennifer. I’m a scrum master for 352 and today I’m going to be talking to you about some of our favorite Sprint 0 exercises. There are many to choose from – and an important disclaimer – these are not 352 originals, but we have made some customizations to them to make them work for our environment.
 
The first one we’re going to talk about: the Headline News exercise. For this exercise, you’re going to need some Small Notepads or Sticky Notes. Pens or markers and either a whiteboard or a presentation board. You’re going to want to involve everyone who is a part of Sprint 0: so that’s going to include your scrum development team, your scrum master of course, your product owner, and any stakeholders associated with the project.
 
How it works: you want everyone to participate, as I mentioned, and you’re going to ask everyone to write down their vision for the project success. So you have them imagine the project has launched. We’ve finished all of our development; we’ve done all of our testing, all of our content integration. It’s launched to the market, to the public, and it’s 3 months after it’s finished launching. And you want them to visualize, if a news reporter was to write a headline news report about the site and what it’s done, what they would want that headline to say. We want to narrow it down to 1 headline for everyone, and you’re going to want to give everyone 3-5 minutes to take some time, think about their answer and then write it down on that small notepad or sticky pad you’ve given them.
 
Once everyone has had an opportunity to jot down their thoughts, they’re going to share it with the group. We go around, we let everyone share when they feel comfortable sharing, but we want everyone to participate. When they share what they wrote down, when they share their headline, we ask them to share why they wrote that down. So we don’t only want to understand the headline, but really getting to the core of it: why was that one important to them? This really helps you get down to what’s important to your client.
 
Why we love it? It really helps to re-center focus. It’s easy sometimes when you’ve been working on a project or excited about development, to have an immense number of ideas. And we want to hear all of them, and we want to know all of your goals, and it’s excellent for this collaborative time in Sprint 0. But sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the weeds, and to lose that focus and to forget what your ultimate goal is. So, it can really help in this exercise to get back to finding your North Star, as it were, or getting back to what’s most important at your core.
 
Helps to reinforce shared goals. It’s a great way to find out, specifically between your client and stakeholders, whether or not they’re on the same page about what they’re looking to accomplish. On that same note, it can reveal discrepancies. If you have 2 stakeholders on the client side who have very different visions for what their headlines news article might say, it might be time to take a step back and talk a little bit more foundationally about your project.
 
I hope this has been helpful. Give it a try and please let us know if it goes well or if you find a variation that has worked even better for you. Thank you!