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Agile Retrospectives to the Next Level - Organizational Agility - OOP 2020 - Ben Linders

Agile Retrospectives can be used to deal with problems in teams, at a project or product level, or those related to the collaboration between the team and stakeholders. But you need a different approach compared to team level retrospectives to do organizational-wide improvement.

This session shows how to use agile retrospectives to reveal and solve systemic organizational problems and to increase the company’s agility It explores different approaches, formats, and techniques for agile retrospectives that are done beyond the development team.

Extended Abstract

Nowadays many agile teams are doing retrospectives regularly. They are investing their time to reflect, learn, and take action to improve their way of working and deal with problems that they are facing in a structural way.

Organizations are seeing the benefits from this: teams that are becoming empowered, being able to deliver more value to customers and stakeholders, happy employees, and fewer people leaving the organization. It’s time to take retrospectives to a higher level, and use them to reveal and solve systemic organizational problems. Agile Retrospectives can be used to do that, but you need a different approach.

In this session, I will show how we can use retrospectives to improve the agility of organizations.

Note: Some might call the above approach scaling retrospectives. If that goes towards imposing how teams do retrospectives with some kind of framework, then I believe it doesn’t work. Increasing agility with retrospectives is about creating an environment where teams not only focus on their own improvement needs but also on the company as a whole, and get support from management when improvements go over their team borders or outside their autonomy.

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Agile Retrospectives to the Next Level - Organizational Agility - OOP 2020 - Ben Linders

  1. 1. - @BenLinders 1 Ben Linders Consulting Retrospectives To The Next Level: Organizational Agility OOP Munich, Feb 3-7, 2020 Ben Linders
  2. 2. - @BenLinders 2 Ben Linders Consulting Trainer / Coach / Adviser / Author / Speaker Agile, Lean, Quality & Continuous improvement Freelance Editor for Books: Valuable Agile Retrospectives Problem? What Problem? What Drives Quality Self-assessments Continuous Improvement Games: Agile Self-assessment Game Retrospectives Bingo Impediments Quality Coaching Cards Agile Testing Cards
  3. 3. - @BenLinders 3 Ben Linders Consulting Retrospectives in Teams  Reflect and learn  Self-organize  Engage & empower  Safety  Proximity
  4. 4. - @BenLinders 4 Ben Linders Consulting Involve stakeholder in retrospective  Busy – will they join the retro?  Might not see the need/benefits  Communication challenges Prerequisites:  Trust & safety  Good relationship
  5. 5. - @BenLinders 5 Ben Linders Consulting Improvement at higher level  Systemic, Complex Problems  Hard to oversee & understand  Stakeholders with Different Goals  Cultural & Organizational Barriers Retrospectives or other techniques
  6. 6. - @BenLinders 6 Ben Linders Consulting Retrospectives with Stakeholders  Invite all involved  Problems relevant for all  Suitable exercise/format  Shared understanding  Ownership of actions Meeting Atmosphere  Everyone feels welcome  Safe to speak up  No blaming & complaining  Guiding toward results
  7. 7. - @BenLinders 7 Ben Linders Consulting Systems Thinking Holistic view  Know the purpose  Visualize the system  Understand behavior  Probe-sense-respond
  8. 8. - @BenLinders 8 Ben Linders Consulting Agility or improving shouldn’t be your goal It’s a means to an end
  9. 9. - @BenLinders 9 Ben Linders Consulting Visualization  Kanban board (JP book)  Constellation (board meeting)  Value Stream (customization) Explore, discuss, share, learn Exercises Book
  10. 10. - @BenLinders 10 Ben Linders Consulting Root cause analysis Analyze a problem to determine causes that made it happen, to define actions to prevent similar problems from happening  Real Problem  Significant Damage  Sponsor pays: – investigation and – preventive actions Success Factors RCA “We do not want such a problem to happen again!”
  11. 11. - @BenLinders 11 Ben Linders Consulting Finding Root Causes  Multiple causes  Relationships  Safety (training) Challenges • Opinion or fact • Uniqueness • Prevent or mitigate
  12. 12. - @BenLinders 12 Ben Linders Consulting Agile Self-assessments Self-assess to improve  Discuss & Learn  Engage & Involve  Health check  Take action Agile journey Checklists Game
  13. 13. - @BenLinders 13 Ben Linders Consulting Impediments & Blockers  Solve first, learn later  Collect and organize  Analyze to understand  What and why, not who Fail fast -> Learn fast  Don’t shoot the messenger  Ignoring doesn’t make problems go away
  14. 14. - @BenLinders 14 Ben Linders Consulting Large-scale retrospectives Project Product Organization Release Delivery Quarterly Collaboration Arch, Tech Debt Structure/culture Dev, Ops, & Teams & Departments & Stakeholders Arch / POs & PMs Managers Timeline Value Stream Map Open Space Large Sailboat Mad Sad Glad Self-assessment
  15. 15. - @BenLinders 15 Ben Linders Consulting Case: Bus–Dev–Ops Retrospective Distributed business, develop & operations –> Agile team • Physical and social distance • Distributed decisions • Timeline retrospectives on release – Reconstruct what happened – How people felt about it – Improve decision making
  16. 16. - @BenLinders 16 Ben Linders Consulting Organizational-wide Collaboration
  17. 17. - @BenLinders 17 Ben Linders Consulting Agile Retrospectives Myths  Invented by agile/Scrum  Only for teams  One format fits all  Learn from mistakes  Lead by Scrum master  More actions is better
  18. 18. - @BenLinders 18 Ben Linders Consulting Prime Directive “Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand.” Project Retrospectives – A handbook for Team Reviews Create an Open Culture where people Speak Up with Respect for each other to Learn and Improve
  19. 19. - @BenLinders 19 Ben Linders Consulting Independent Facilitator  Process  Effectiveness  Atmosphere  No personal agenda  Not involved in topic
  20. 20. - @BenLinders 20 Ben Linders Consulting Vital Few Actions  Small Actions  Frequent Change  Focus on Value  Stop Starting, Start Finishing Vital Few Actions
  21. 21. - @BenLinders 21 Ben Linders Consulting Imposing doesn’t work
  22. 22. - @BenLinders 22 Ben Linders Consulting Engage and empower Retrospectives Exercises Toolbox
  23. 23. - @BenLinders 23 Ben Linders Consulting Management support for retrospectives • Encourage people do retrospectives • Don’t attend, unless explicitly invited • Respect the “Vegas Rule” • Craft and communicate a vision • Offer help, let team self-organize • Listen to understand, don’t judge Role of Managers in Agile Retrospectives
  24. 24. - @BenLinders 24 Ben Linders Consulting Agile journey of learning  What hinders us to reach our goals?  What helps us to take the next step?  What are the risks & opportunities?  What to pack for our agile journey?  What shall we leave behind? Backpacking Retrospective
  25. 25. - @BenLinders 25 Ben Linders Consulting Coaching Agile  People coach each other  Culture of coaching – all levels  Exchange coaching experiences  JIT & on-the-job coaching  Coach by just being there Agile needs coaching Not about coaches; coaching and coachees matters!
  26. 26. - @BenLinders 26 Ben Linders Consulting Enable organization for improvement  Establish a culture of learning  Drive out fear and blaming  Do improvements at all levels
  27. 27. - @BenLinders 27 Ben Linders Consulting Key Takeaways • Use retrospectives to address systemic issues and do organizational-wide improvement • Think about the exercises used in your retrospectives and have a strong independent retrospective facilitator  • Don't impose change on people, engage and empower people with self-assessments and gamification
  28. 28. - @BenLinders 28 Ben Linders Consulting Questions?Questions? Ben Linders Trainer / Coach / Adviser / Author / Speaker Agile, Lean, Quality & Continuous Improvement @BenLinders
  29. 29. - @BenLinders 29 Ben Linders Consulting Bonus: Effective Retrospectives  Why over how  Good facilitation  Effective exercises  Frequent, small steps  Vital few actions