Retrospectives useful tool_or_empty_ceremony

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Retrospectives have the potential to be a cornerstone of any agile project; when given appropriate attention and done correctly they embody the principles of continuous feedback and improvement and provide a great asset for team progress. Often however, retrospectives are not given appropriate attention, and what could be a valuable tool in an agile team’s arsenal is replaced by empty ceremony.

This session was an in depth dissection of the components which make up an effective retrospective, aiming to illuminate the philosophies behind the ceremony and effective patterns that have stood me in good stead when I facilitate retrospectives.

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Retrospectives useful tool_or_empty_ceremony

  1. 1. Agile Retrospectives Useful tool, or empty ceremony? Akash Bhalla akash@thoughtworks.com @akashb
  2. 2. Agile Retrospectives Useful tool, or empty ceremony?
  3. 3. How can we usethe lessons of the pastto improve our future ?
  4. 4. Agile Retrospectives Useful tool, or empty ceremony? Katana  |  an  exhibit  by  sinkdd  CC  image  via  flickr  
  5. 5. Evidence
  6. 6. EvidenceProcess (action + understanding)
  7. 7. EvidenceProcess (action + understanding) Ritual (action – understanding)
  8. 8. EvidenceProcess (action + understanding) Ritual (action – understanding) Supers ti tion
  9. 9. “   ”  Superstition ain’t the way
  10. 10. XRetrospective format ideas?Retrospective ceremony ✓
  11. 11. Regardless  of  what  we  discover,     we  understand  and  truly  believe     that  everyone  did  the  best  job  they  could,   given  what  they  knew  at  the  Ame,    their  skills  and  abiliAes,  the  resources  available,     and  the  situaAon  at  hand  
  12. 12. first contact
  13. 13. Summer 2007…ThoughtWorks University, Bangalore
  14. 14. real world context
  15. 15. A couple of months later… My first real retro!
  16. 16. presentation
  17. 17. Regardless of what we discover,we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job theycould, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand
  18. 18. understanding
  19. 19. Let’s Pretend, Regardless of what we discover,we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job theycould, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand
  20. 20. “questioning the prime directive”
  21. 21. The Prime Directive How are you presenting it?Are you explaining the meaning behind it? “Let’s pretend” The retrospective is not an appropriate forum for personal feedbackBadly explained prime directive + alcohol = anger
  22. 22. Why How
  23. 23. It’s not all about you!
  24. 24. So you can decide whetherto carry on or not +So the team gains awareness
  25. 25. 5 Talk about anything, want to explore other’s thoughts as well as my own4 Talk about most things, but small few topics I may keep quiet on3 Happy to sit and listen, will talk if something I am very passionate about comes up2 Not comfortable talking, even when I have a strong opinion, will keep it to myself1 Not comfortable being here, I want to leave
  26. 26. E   p lor er!ex visit or!
  27. 27.  1 {   don’t ignore it   }
  28. 28. 2{ suggestions to   improve safety   }  
  29. 29. 3 { redo the   safety check }    
  30. 30. 4 { }   stop    
  31. 31. The Safety Check “Is it secret? Is it safe?” – Gandalf the grey Explain the numbers Keep it anonymousIs just as valuable to the groupas it is to the facilitator Safety too low? -  ask for ways to improve safety (keep it anonymous and make everyone write something down) 72% of all facilitators suffer from premature safety checking, - Implement changes don’t be one of them - Redo safety check - Be prepared to stop if necessary
  32. 32. Important? ✓Most important? X
  33. 33. Structurewho? when? what?
  34. 34. Structurewho? ?
  35. 35. Structure what?
  36. 36. pecific easurable chievable elevant imeboxed
  37. 37. Structure when?
  38. 38. The Action items Thought without action = powerless meditation Action without thought = crazy man covered in mud Thought, then action = awesome warrior monk Remove ambiguity (a good rule for all communication)Keep them SMART Only ever volunteer yourself! Action cop FTW
  39. 39. 1 {   Prepare
  40. 40. {2Recap F5  
  41. 41. 3   { Explain
  42. 42. 4 motivate {  
  43. 43. 5 Keep time {  
  44. 44. 6 {   (Be invisible)
  45. 45. The facilitator Remember the boy scouts motto: always be prepared Recap the last retro + review actions Be a time cop (not timecop – “time cop” = keep track of time/keep team informed. “Timecop” = awful Van-Damme movie) Motivate! The retrospective Should engage your creative sideCommunicate/explain – spread understandingthrough the team like you spread butter on a muffin.Only don’t use a knife. Be invisible!
  46. 46. How can we usethe lessons of the pastto improve our future ?
  47. 47. The Prime Directive The Safety Check How are you presenting it? “Is it secret? Is it safe?” – Gandalf the grey Is just as valuable to the group Are you explaining the meaning behind it? as it is to the facilitator Explain the numbers “Let’s pretend” Safety too low? Keep it anonymous -  ask how to increase it The retrospective is not an appropriate (keep it anonymous and make forum for personal feedback 72% of all facilitators suffer from everyone write something) premature safety checking, - Implement changes Badly explained prime directive + alcohol = anger don’t be one of them - Redo safety check - Stop if necessary The Action items The facilitator Remember the boy scouts motto: always be preparedThought without action = powerless meditation Action without thought = crazy man covered in mud Recap the last retro + review actionsThought, then action = awesome warrior monk Be a time cop (not timecop – “time cop” = keep track of time/keep team informed. “Timecop” = awful Van-Damme movie) Remove ambiguity (a good rule for all communication) Communicate/explain – spread understandingKeep them SMART through the team like you spread butter on a muffin. Only ever volunteer yourself! Only don’t use a knife. Motivate! The retrospective Be invisible! Action cop FTW Should engage your creative side akash@thoughtworks.com
  48. 48. The Prime Directive The Safety Check How are you presenting it? “Is it secret? Is it safe?” – Gandalf the grey Is just as valuable to the group Explain the numbers Are you explaining the meaning behind it? as it is to the facilitator “Let’s pretend” Keep it anonymous Safety too low? The retrospective is not an appropriate -  ask for ways to improve safety forum for personal feedback (keep it anonymous and make 72% of all facilitators suffer everyone write something down) from premature safety checking, - Implement changes Badly explained prime directive + alcohol = anger don’t be one of them - Redo safety check - Be prepared to stop if necessary akash@thoughtworks.com The Action items The facilitatorThought without action = powerless meditation Remember the boy scouts motto: always be prepared Action without thought = crazy man covered in mud Recap the last retro + review actionsThought, then action = awesome warrior monk Be a time cop (not timecop – “time cop” = keep track of time/keep team informed. “Timecop” = awful Van-Damme movie) Remove ambiguity (a good rule for all communication)Keep them SMART Communicate/explain – spread understanding Only ever volunteer yourself! through the team like you spread butter on a muffin. Only don’t use a knife. Action cop FTW Be invisible! akash@thoughtworks.com

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