Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Agile Retrospective meeting, Everything you must know | Supreme Agile


Many teams can work hard to accomplish a common goal, But the problem begins once they cannot find a way to improve, so working hard is great, but the key to major improvement is improving the process of "How" the team works...?

In the scrum framework, teams can answer that question by performing the "Retrospective" meeting at the end of each iteration, the main goal of this meeting is to help the team gain an opportunity to make a process improvement after each iteration, and not just working "Harder".
 תוצאת תמונה עבור ‪retrospective‬‏

 What is the purpose of Agile Retrospective?

The retrospective meeting has been around since the beginning as one of the seven Core principles described in the agile manifesto "At regular intervals, the team reflects on how
to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly." 

The retrospective meeting is the platform which allowing the team to discuss and understand how they can improve the current process and increase the effectiveness of their work. 

The missing concept of the retrospective meeting

The retrospective meeting is usually carried on the last day of the two weeks iteration, in a meeting that takes anywhere between 30-90 minutes, the main issue that occur in many organizations is that they see the time spent on this meeting as a waste of time, by their state of mind, the team should focus on the product and not reflecting how they work and what they do in the iteration to deliver the product (The team is just too busy to waste their time in such meeting). 

The responsibility to make sure that the organization will follow the agile manifesto to allow the team to perform a continues improvement in their work process, is on the product owner and scrum master that should validate that the retrospective meeting will get a high priority and that it’s enforced once the organization decide to implement the agile methodology.

Setting-up the retrospective meeting


To help the team members to be able to share their thoughts, we must make sure that we provide them a safe and comfortable space that will make it easier for them to discuss about their insights. 

How to choose the space for this meeting:

  • Make sure that the room is comfortable for the people attended.
  • Teams have the tendency to perform better in rooms that a windows and natural sunlight (It can be in a meeting room, Coffee Shop Etc.).
  • The room should have a good space to allow the team members to walk around (do not choose a small place that people will feel like they're in a crowded situation).

The main phases of the retrospective meeting

There are a few good ways to perform the retrospective meeting, but the main key is to follow a few basic phases to actually allow the team to share their thoughts and in the end to improve the work process in the next iteration, the main phases and concepts that should be part from every retro meeting:


Phase 1 – Provide the confidence for the team

The main key for people to share their real thoughts is to provide them the confidence and safety that they can speak without any other people judging them, many retrospectives are doomed to be fail once the team resources does not have the confidence to speak and raise the real issues that they see through the iteration, so the first and most important thing of the retrospective meeting is to help people to gain a real confidence to allow them to express as they want.

 

Phase 2 – Data Gathering (Retrospective Agenda)


  1. The scrum master will ask the team to determine the positive aspects of the last iteration and write in on a board, this is very important to start with a positive start and celebrate the iteration achievements.
  2. The scrum master will ask the team to determine the problematic aspects of the last iteration and write in on a board (Prioritized by importance).
  3. The team will review the board artifacts and will suggest ways to improve the problematic artifacts.

Phase 3– Set the Goals

The scrum master and team will determine the Goals following five basic principles: 

Specific – The goal must be specific and set for addressing a single issue.

Measurable – Once the goal was set, it's time to set the metrics to measure it, otherwise how can we actually guarantee that the goal was accomplished?

Achievable – What is the benefit in setting a goal that you cannot achieve? To actually make an improvement, we must set goals that we can accomplish.

Realistic – I want to make a better world! Is it realistic? Any goal you set should be realistic to the environment and team, there is no point to set goals that are not realistic and therefore are not achievable.

Time-Boxed – After you set a goal, make sure you set a time limit to accomplish it, this is the only way to validate that you address the goal in a time frame that will make the difference in the next sprints.


Phase 4– Apply Action Items in the next iteration

Once the team set their goals, it’s time to translate them into real action items that the team will use to improve the process. Without setting an action items, the team will both be able to make the difference in the next iteration, setting the goals is just the beginning, the through challenge is to set an action plan to accomplish them. 

Now, translating goals into action items can be a challenging task event for the best teams, the three main challenges that you should pay attention to: 

More Discussion less action items

The team creates an endless discussion about each action items that cause a diversion from the original goal instead of extracting real action items, therefore the facilitator must validate that the team focuses on improvement by reducing any conversation that Is not contributed to that goal.

Too many action items less Discussion

The second problem is that the team will only focus on creating the action items instead of making a short discussion to agree about the real scope of the problem. To reduce this problem, it's the facilitator's responsibility to create a shared understanding about the common goal.

 

The Scrum Master as superman

The third problem occurs when the team depends too much on the scrum master, and therefore trusts him to handle all problems and action items, to overcome this problem, we will share the ownership of the action items on the team members as we expected to see in Self-Organize teams.

Phase 5 – Ownership and Follow-Up


Each action item that is resolved will take the team one step further to continues improvement, and that’s the most important thing that we want to achieve from the retrospective meeting.  

Once the action items are determined, the next step is to assign the owners for each action item, to do so, the facilitator should ask for volunteers to handle the challenges (the facilitator should never assignee the owners!), the main idea is that each team member will volunteer to handle at least one action item. 

Another important point that the facilitator should handle, are the action items that do not have an owner, once he recognizes such scenario, he should start a discussion with the team to understand why no one was claimed to ownership.

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