Agile Retrospectives<br />Anthony Boobier<br />Email:<br />
“Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It...
What is it?<br /><ul><li>Inspect and Adapt are critical parts of Agile Process but…
They are methods focussed on Product
Retrospective is team-focussed
Way of ensuring we Inspect and Adapt the following
Engineering Practices
Teamwork</li></li></ul><li>Preparation<br /><ul><li>Team Working Agreements
Keep focus
Needs to be a safe environment
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Using Retrospectives to build better Agile teams


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Retrospectives are a vital part of a successful agile development process. They provide the opportunity for the team to pause on a regular basis to assess progress and process, adjust and make improvements, rather than waiting until the end of a project to gather up lessons learnt.

This presentation explains why the Retrospective is a key tool in anyone’s iterative development toolkit. It gives an overview of Agile Iteration Retrospectives, their importance and how to structure them.

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  • This quote was used by Norman L. Kerth in his book Project Retrospectives.Traditionally, the lessons learned were shared at the end of the project. But these were often shelved and did not help the project they were associated with.
  • Agile methods are focussed on development of the product. The Inspect and Adapt cycle of reviewing and demonstrating the deliverables omits the essential component of the process - the team itself.The Retrospective resolves this. In my opinion, it is the most important tool on any Agile project because it allows the team to implement Agile practices through the Retrospective process.
  • Team working agreements are important. These should be driven by the team and used to keep focus and keep everyone involved. Think about writing them up on a flip chart after you have agreed them at your first meeting, and then bringing them along to each subsequent meeting. These may include rules like no mobile phones and only one person to speak at a time.Should the Customer attend? The answer to this is simple – it depends.It depends on the relationship with the customer, the theme of the Retrospective, and the individuals involved. I have run my most successful and most challenging retrospectives with the customer present. You need to consider how open and safe an environment you will be creating by having them present.
  • It is vital that a Retrospective (any meeting for that matter) has structure and a clear purpose / outcome.By far the best approach to structure of a Retrospective is that defined by Esther Derby and Diana Larsen (see Further Reading at the end of this presentation).
  • Choosing a word for the Iteration is a great way to break the ice at the start of a retrospective and encouraging people to talk.If attendees don’t speak in the first 10 minutes of the meeting, it gives them tacit approval to be quiet for the duration.The word of the Iteration gives a good insight into how people felt the Iteration went and can drive the theme and/or Gather data phaseIt is also light-hearted enough to be a good team-building exercise.Don’t forget actions and things the team agreed to implement as a result of the last retrospective. People don’t change unless they have to – remind the team.
  • A mechanism for generating the insights is required. Why were things the way they were?I tend to use the above quadrant, or the “Y-Fronts” model – What should we stop doing? What should we keep doing? What should we start doing?It’s not often that you get anything into the who/what we appreciate quadrant.
  • Actions and items that we agree to implement as part of the next Iteration. There should be no more than three – be realistic. Make sure that actions are spread across the team.Use Dot voting. (Give each member of the team the same number of sticky dots and get them to put them against the item they feel is highest priority. They can put all votes against one items or spread them across a number of items.) Choose the top three things and then brainstorm actions to implement them.Use a Wiki or Whiteboard to capture Retrospective top three actions so that the information is not lost.
  • Create a winning team
  • If you are looking for further reading on Agile retrospectives then these are my recommendations.Esther Derby and Diana Larsen’s book describes the structured approach to Agile Retrospectives Norman L. Kerth’s book is the definitive text, and has especially useful information on end of Project RetrospectivesJean Tabaka’s book has useful information on facilitation of Retrospectives
  • Using Retrospectives to build better Agile teams

    1. 1. Agile Retrospectives<br />Anthony Boobier<br />Email:<br />
    2. 2. “Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it”<br />A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh. London: Puffin Books, 1926<br />Quote used by Norm Kerth<br />
    3. 3. What is it?<br /><ul><li>Inspect and Adapt are critical parts of Agile Process but…
    4. 4. They are methods focussed on Product
    5. 5. Retrospective is team-focussed
    6. 6. Way of ensuring we Inspect and Adapt the following
    7. 7. Methods
    8. 8. Engineering Practices
    9. 9. Teamwork</li></li></ul><li>Preparation<br /><ul><li>Team Working Agreements
    10. 10. Keep focus
    11. 11. Needs to be a safe environment
    12. 12. Attendees: Team, Scrumaster
    13. 13. Should the customer attend? That depends…</li></li></ul><li>Ensure it has Structure<br />Set the Stage<br />Gather Data<br />Generate Insights<br />Decide what to do<br />Close the Retrospective<br />
    14. 14. Set The Stage !<br />Set a theme for the Retrospective<br />A word for the iteration<br />EPIC, OK, TRUCKING-ON, MOMENTUM, RUNNING, INTERRUPTED, MARVELLOUS, RUSHED, PROMISING, PAINFUL, PROGRESS, BOGGY,EXCELLENT, ZOOM, FRUSTRATING, SLOW<br />Assess Actions from previous retrospective<br />Reminders and Re-enforcers<br />
    15. 15. Gather Data<br /><ul><li>Things that happened and how we responded
    16. 16. People see things very differently
    17. 17. Key events timeline
    18. 18. What did we commit to delivering?
    19. 19. Stories delivered
    20. 20. Test cases passed
    21. 21. Defects raised</li></li></ul><li>Generate Insights !<br />What were the patterns? Why were things the way they were?<br />
    22. 22. Decide what to do<br /><ul><li>What do we want to do in our next iteration to meet our goal?
    23. 23. Be realistic
    24. 24. Pick no more than 3 things
    25. 25. Use Dot voting
    26. 26. Sprint plan
    27. 27. Implementation backlog</li></li></ul><li>Benefits: Building Winning Teams<br />
    28. 28. Further Reading<br />Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great. Esther Derby & Diana Larsen<br />Project Retrospectives: A Handbook for Team Reviews. Norman L. Kerth<br />Collaboration Explained. Jean Tabaka<br />