scrum success fist of five
Paul Thornton
Paul Thornton

Measuring scrum session success (fist of five)

A lightweight, but effective, technique I sometimes use to measure the success of a scrum session (or ceremony) is through the use of ‘fist of five’.

Various questions can be asked at the end of the session to gain insight from the team members, but I quite like focusing on three specific areas:

  1. PURPOSE: did the session accomplish its purpose?
  2. TIME: was the time invested worthwhile?
  3. EMOTION: do you feel better having taken part in the session?

By asking these questions and asking the team members to rate with their fists (0/fist – low; 5 fingers – high), a quick gauge can be ascertained with the view to either keeping the same format and time allocated or whether change is required to make the session more effective.

I have seen this being particularly effective with retrospective sessions, where the team have time to review their previous sprint retro actions and come up with ideas for improvement but lack the time to define specific actions for the next sprint.  Through the ‘fist of five’ technique, we can quickly recognise where there exists a need for change and tweak a few things to make the retro much more effective. In one case, this was accomplished through stricter time-boxing and extending the session by 15mins.

Extending Use

The fist of five technique is also useful during scrum planning sessions, to gauge mutual alignment of understanding of a user story, and of course to estimate user stories (in the absence of planning poker cards).

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