Retrospectives

There’s no questioning the value of good retrospectives, but are your retrospectives always valuable? Do they address the issues that need to be addressed? Does everyone contribute? Does everyone get value from them? Do you even ask?

There is no “One size fits all” approach with retrospectives. Whilst picking random activities may lead to a retrospective that will provide some novelty, it will rarely yield the same good results as a carefully tailored one. Those that want to try the random cocktail approach can try Retromat. (This is actually a very good site, with a great collection of activities set out in the 5 stage format. You can choose to tailor but there’s a shuffle feature.)

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Analogies and agile

I love analogies. Ask anyone I work with and they’ll tell you that I’m obsessed with them. I use them all the time to help clarify an idea or a problem or to simply encourage people to think differently. Analogies help level the playing field. If you’re having a conversation with a group of developers, accountants, medical students and footballers, it’s likely that talking about something in one of their respective domains will alienate the other groups. Using an analogy based on something that everyone can relate to can break down these barriers to gain a common understanding. Continue…

Hindsight. Painful but useful

I was recently asked (spontaneously) to present a topic. A topic that I’m very passionate about. In that moment and without any preparation, I defaulted to writing bullet points on a flip chart as I explained each area of the topic. Whilst I did what was asked of me, I know I could’ve done a lot better. I replayed this event in my mind countless times; each time thinking of how much better I could’ve presented, how I could’ve made it more engaging and interactive, how I should’ve been more passionate. Next time I’ll use these mental replays and this hindsight to do better. Continue…

Agile X-Men

I recently watched an X-Men movie and it occurred to me that one of the great things about iterative development is the opportunity we have to evolve quickly. We mutate our approach, activities and processes at every generation (sprint). Like evolution, we implement natural selection. We try a new process or activity and if it helps the team, it survives; we keep it and we may build on it in the future generations. If something doesn’t work, if it doesn’t help us, it dies off and the “mutation” is not inherited by the next sprint. Having said that, it can be difficult to have the courage to make some changes. Some teams using Scrum may be reluctant to “mutate” anything that would contradict a purist adoption of the methodology. It’s easy to fear change and there’s a good argument that sticking to the script and using best practice helps us avoid mistakes. However, we should remember that Scrum is about adapting as well as inspecting. Continue…

Procrastination

Finally, I’ve published a blog post. For years I’ve procrastinated, promising myself that I will do something special, something flashy and original with this website. All of these things, these bells and whistles that I imagined were stopping me from doing what needed to be done, were just easy excuses not to get on with it. It seems apt therefore that this post should be about procrastination. Continue…