Note: Because this is an ongoing series, viewers will not receive a certificate of completion.
- Diagnosing problems within an agile team
- Solving issues with agile meetings
- Creating cross-functional teams
- Helping distributed teams function well
- Managing up within your organization
Skill Level Appropriate for all
- Your team's retrospective, retro for short, is one of the most important events in the sprint. This is the only time the team is focused on improving itself and its processes. Because it's so important, you need to pay close attention to anti-patterns you see in this event. One of the most common anti-patterns I've encountered is one where no one is willing to speak up about anything. The good or the bad. When this happens, it's impossible for the team to improve.
So you'll need to take action right away. I'll share with you some of the things that have worked for me and my teams to overcome it. First, always come to retro with your own list of things that you've observed. Areas where the team excelled and areas where improvement could be made. You'll use this information to facilitate a dialogue among the team members. For example, maybe you observed that testing wasn't completed for a particular story or you saw the team swarm on a problem and solve it during the sprint.
These are things you'll want to have ready to trigger discussion. Second, when everyone gathers, be sure to set the stage. You'll do this by reminding them that what's said in retro belongs to the team and only the team. Everyone is expected to keep the safety of the retro. Also, it's a great idea to remind everyone that retro is a no-judgment zone. That means everyone on the team understands that each person brought their best selves to the team every day and did the best they could with what they knew at the time.
It's critical to remind the team that it's safe to share their ideas. Next, you'll need some sort of pattern the team can follow to share their insights. If your team is co-located, using a whiteboard and sticky notes can help get the ball rolling. If your team is distributed, you can use electronic tools to help. For example, Skype has whiteboard functionality. Then, before the team arrives, you can simply write on the whiteboard stop, start and continue.
Another option is to draw a sailboat on the whiteboard with billowing sails and an anchor. When the team arrives, ask them to add at least one idea in each category. So each person will add something to stop, something to start and something to continue. Or if they're using the sailboat, they'll add one thing they believe is the wind in the team's sails and one thing that's slowing the team down. When you use these techniques, you'll help your team trust and share with each other.
When they do that, you're getting them to high performance.