Luis Gonçalves – Blog

Agile, Scrum, Retrospectives, etc.

Do retrospectives more often!!!

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Hi guys, in my last post I explained why I think we should take a single item out from a retrospective. This post received some interesting feedback. One of the examples is: “If a team is big or if items are small, there is no point taking just one item.” My opinion is still the same: we should stick to one item at a time. We all work in complex systems, therefore, when we solve any problem around it, there is a big possibility that the whole system will change. This will force us to take a step back and re-assess what is wrong with the new system. If we had several topics to solve, most probably those topics became obsolete within the new system.

If you read the book: “Toyota Kata” written by author Mike Rother, you will find exactly the same comment. People think that choosing one single topic for improvement would make a company really slow. But in reality, Toyota improved much faster than any other car company. So how is this possible?

The trick was that Toyota did not wait long to analyse if the change had any effect. They did not wait for a next weekly meeting. As soon as they implemented the change, they immediately verified if it caused any impact or not. So my question is: Why not to do the same with our software development process? Why do we wait for the end of a sprint or the end of a project to do a retrospective? If we start to do small retrospectives on a daily basis we are able to understand much better what is an impact of our actions. If we do short and fast retrospectives, the speed of learning is unbelievably fast.

Let me give you an example, yesterday I went for a coffee with a colleague of mine “Marcos Garrido” he told me that few years ago he had a difficult team. That team could not deliver anything for the last two years. He thought how he could help them. He took a drastic approach and he started with the basics of agile. He started with sprints of a day, YES exactly that ONE SINGLE day!!! A working day looked like this: planning around 8:00AM, daily after lunch and Demo and Retrospective before leaving home. Do you know what happened? In 4 weeks, they delivered more value than during two previous years. Marcos received awesome feedback, and the team felt that a speed of learning was something great.

In conclusion, I want to say is: chose one single topic to improve, implement changes, see how the system react to the new changes and if needed, choose a new topic without the need of waiting for next retrospective. Retrospectives are actions that should be triggered on daily basis, we should start analyzing what we do more frequently. I truly believe that all of us just “do stuff” without really thinking what and how we are doing it.

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