Sunday, December 2, 2012

Only one to choose - Choose the Sprint Retrospective or the Reflection and Learning Step of the Engagement Meeting

I've been finding this a recurring question for a while, so I thought I might share some thoughts on the subject.  People have been asking, if you can only do one thing from Scrum or OpenAgile, what would it be?

When deciding what the most important part of your Agile Framework is, think about the Retrospective (Scrum), or the Reflection and Learning part of the Engagement Meeting (OpenAgile).

This meeting is a focused way for an individual, team, community or system to improve through continual learning.

Many corporations who have adopted Scrum have started with procedural parts of Scrum such as the Daily Scrum or the Planning Meeting.  The teams "go through the motions", yet no significant changes are made to the way work is done.  Many team members simply don't grow as individuals this way.

Scrum's Retrospective Meeting is a meeting where team members focus on improvement of themselves, the overall system, or their processes.

Often, the results of the meeting are the discovery of system-wide obstacles. If adjusted, these changes will allow the team to work more efficiently.  Sometimes the meeting may simply expose friction between team members that needs to be worked on (not managed).

The OpenAgile Reflection and Learning Parts of the Engagement Meeting focus on learning about our environment, system, community, and each other. 

By focusing on increasing our capacity to learn, we allow ourselves to be open to new ideas and things to try in our global "system".  As a result, our ability to "be of service" to our community is significantly improved.

The words are slightly different but the idea is similar...

"Let's go back and look at the last period of time we worked together and learn from that.   Based on what we learned, we can do something different next time and see how that works out."  Improvement is incremental, not batched.

If you are a ScrumMaster, or Process Facilitator, consider doing things to make the Retrospective the most important part of your Agile Mindset.

This one simple meeting, has the ability to drive any framework, team, or system to improve quickly.  It also allows continual learning and improvement to continue.

If you really want to have some fun with the meeting as well, some self-improvements to consider includes reading Ester Derby's book, Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great or taking a course in Innovation Games.

For me at least, it's always great when this meeting is taken seriously by teams and by the company.  The leaps and bounds teams can make are incredible.  This is because they can quickly and easily see what new things they need to learn and what improvement they can make .. now.

Ignoring this important meeting is just way too slow.

by Mike Caspar

References : 

OpenAgile Engagement Meeting -

1 comment :

  1. Great post -- teams generally don't get the point of the retrospective. However, as ScrumMasters and Agile Coaches it is our responsibility to allow teams to interact and sort themselves out for the next iteration. Without this introspection, teams continue on a steady but declining path. Nothing changes and productivity generally suffers.

    I have seen many postings on how to make retrospectives more interesting. My challenge is to do what Mike suggests. Get out and take a course or read some great material that will make you a better coach. Be creative and think of something different and engaging. If you fell excited as a coach about facilitating the retro then your team will feel that energy.