Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Retrospective: Does it help?

In the world of Agile Development there is this practice known as a Retrospective. A Retrospective is when teams get together to reflect on what happened during the iteration that just completed.  it is a time for the team to answer a few questions about their process, the result, the engineering, anything that may need to be reviewed by the team for approval or improvement.

If the team is serious about its commitment to self organize/govern then the Retrospective is crucial to the teams success. Being able to discuss openly what you may need to improve on is a great tool to improve efficiency. It has been my experience that this takes a couple of iterations before the team really can see the results of their efforts.

On the other hand, I worked with a team late last year that got it almost right away.  The QA team member was not on the same page as the other team members and that came out in the first iteration’s retrospective. suggestions were made for improvement and some strategies discussed. An action plan was implemented.
At the next iteration’s retrospective the team was openly thankful to the QA team member for his role during the iteration.  They also were all encouraged by what open communication and review can do to help the team be more efficient. It was demonstrable for them. It was tangible.

There are many ways teams implement retrospectives. I like to answer three questions:

1. What did we do well?
2. What do we need to improve on?
3. What will we actively work on and how?

I find these three questions as a starting point to move teams closer to efficiency. What are some of the ways retrospectives are utilized in your Agile team?

Till next time…
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