Here’s another guest blog post at benlinders.com about Agile Retrospectives. Mukul Vyas, an Agile and Lean Enthusiast shares his ideas for making the adoption rate of retrospectives and the value that they deliver visible to everyone involved. Thanks Mukul!
Sprint Retrospective – A very important sprint ceremony though usually underrated by organizations. In my previous organization, as a scrum master, I was also responsible for facilitating sprint retrospective meetings but due to mounting pressures we had to skip them most of the times. Then I used a technique to convince the higher management. The technique not just exemplified the importance of sprint retrospectives but it also demonstrated how to measure its adoption rate.
I call it Sprint Retrospective Doughnut. Unless, everyone contributes it won’t be tasty!
Why is it required?
Sprint retrospectives form a routine feedback loop leading to continuous improvement. If retrospectives are not done the right way, its results will be dwindled. What went wrong in the previous sprint will not be unearthed. Team will not be able to unravel it in the upcoming sprints and the loop will continue.
Let’s go with an example. If a sprint cycle is facing issues regularly and it doesn’t get resolved in the sprint itself – the concerns can be raised in the retrospective. Now, if the retrospective itself is compromised how will an organization reap its real benefits; without knowing what to fix?
“What matters for a successful agile transformation is people’s mindset as they are the ultimate carriers of this change”
How to measure this? Well, one way is to observe the patterns and trends in people’s reaction to various sprint ceremonies and how effectively they contribute.
I formulated a fun way to do this by preparing a recipe for preparing the retrospective doughnut. The same can be applied to other sprint ceremonies.
Anybody, who cares about retrospectives and understands its importance can contribute to make the doughnut tasty and life easy.
I believe in being lean, and so the exercise isn’t time consuming but serves great information over time. Even when nobody showed up for the retrospective I went on and did this quick exercise every cycle.
The recipe can be modified as per the needs of your organization. As I am sure during initial phase of transition you do not want to serve a red doughnut every time 🙂
How to share this doughnut?
Daily Stand up
On the last day of the sprint or right before the next Sprint Retrospective, hijack last 5 mins from the daily scrum. Share this doughnut and the matrix with everyone in the team. Try to connect this to the problems being faced by the team and how those cannot be resolved, until we participate in retrospectives as well.
Retrospective Reminder Email
I have set up recurring reminders for retrospectives. Another way is to shoot an email at a right time before the retrospective.
- A fun way of exploring critical information while not blaming anyone in particular for the failures. As you can see it’s easy to understand that unless everyone contributes it won’t be tasty.
- Helping teams to understand their accountability. e.g. if somebody didn’t prepare notes in advance you are not pinpointing anyone but the chart speaks for itself.
- Helps to understand how well an organization/team is transitioning to Agile or the other way round ‘Is Agile working for us’?
- An easy to understand information that can be presented in review meetings with stakeholders to help them uncover loopholes.
The exercise is not really meant to be a core effort for agile transition. I believe that actions and structured information (statistics) have better impact on our brain than simple words. The other way would be to just chat about retrospectives not happening, and then forget about it thinking that ‘It’s not me alone, others are not interested as well’. Please let me know your thoughts.
About Mukul Vyas
Mukul is an Agile and Lean Enthusiast and you can checkout some other interesting posts on Scrum and Agile on his personal blog http://www.agilemirror.com/. Mukul can be reached out on LinkedIn at https://in.linkedin.com/in/mukulvyas
The Why and How of Agile Retrospectives
This guest post from Mukul Vyas provides ideas to increase the adoption rate of retrospectives. To make retrospectives stick in organizations is important to know why you are doing retrospectives and use appropriate exercises in agile retrospectives. The book Getting Value out of Agile Retrospectives from Luis Gonçalves and Ben Linders provides many different retrospective exercises that you can use to design effective retrospectives.