Archive for Scrum Retrospectives

Scrum Exposes Bad Processes and Obstacles

Posted in Agile, Retrospectives, SCRUM with tags , , , , , , , on December 19, 2008 by vikramadhiman

In our last post, we discussed the Agile Retrospective technique of Start, Stop, Continue or SSC. In this, post we discuss a technique first tried by Pete Deemer [CST, co-leader of Yahoo's implementation of Scrum].

Often, as the end of a sprint, the team comes back and says things like

  • Its more stressful in Agile
  • Things are worse than before
  • Agile does not work
  • We were better off before

If as a Process Coach or Scrum Master you hear something like this, you can try this in your retrospectives:

  1. Ask the team to collectively come up with a list of things they thing are better than before/ is working well and also what is not working well/ worse than before. So, you have two lists : Better and Worse.
  2. Now ask each member to mark each item on both the lists from three possible options : Caused by Scrum [C]/ Agile, Exposed/ Made Visible by Scrum or Agile [E], Does not relate to Scrum/ Agile [U].
  3. Compile the score and let there be pin drop silence in the retrospective.
  4. The team may find a lot of C’s on the “What’s Working Well or is Better than Before” side of the board, and a lot of E’s on the “What Could Work Better or What is Worse than Before ”; this is good news, even if the “What Could Work Better” list is a long one, because the first step to solving underlying issues is making them visible, and Scrum is a powerful catalyst for that.
  5. The team’s opinion and acceptance of Agile/ Scrum would have undergone a complete 180 degrees turn.

It is often useful to keep a snapshot of the whiteboard where these lists are maintained and keep revisiting them in each of the Retrospectives. This is especially useful for the teams which are transitioning to Scrum or Agile way of working.

Agile Retrospectives Start Stop Continue

Posted in Agile, Retrospectives, SCRUM with tags , , , , on December 15, 2008 by vikramadhiman

Revisiting the discussion on agile retrospectives, it is recognized by some as the single most effective practice/ ceremony of Agile. This could be because this exercise:

  1. Brings the team together
  2. The team inspects what it has been doing
  3. The team tries to adapt for better results

On a score of 04 based on Agile Manifesto, Agile Retrospectives would score a 02. They are about individuals and interactions and help the team respond to change. In addition, Agile Retrospectives help the team focus on 02 other principles of the Agile Manifesto : Customer Collaboration and Working Software.

There are various approaches in conducting Agile Retrospectives. One of the most common approach that is advocated by many coaches is “Start, Stop, Continue”. A very simple approach, this type of retrospective is usually conducted as follows:

1. All team members make 3 lists – what is working well and they should Continue doing, what is not working well and should be stopped, and what is something that can be explored/ Started.

2. One-by-one everyone adds their points to a central whiteboard/ list. They can do a plus 1 if what they want is already on the list.

3. After everyone has completed this, the team picks up the items with most “plus 1″.

4. They commit to “some” or “all” items in the 03 lists – Start List, Stop List, Continue List.

5. In the next retrospective, they go back to this list and evaluate how they have done [this can be done in a variety of ways too - everyone votes on whether they were successful in implementing something or not and after this a new Start, Stop, Continue List is drawn].

6. Some people like to keep it mechanical – vote and decide. Others like a lot of brainstorming, discussions and debates. Its useful to have debate on what you are planning to do. The only downside of debates in retrospectives is that more powerful or vociferous attendees may overpower others. Hence, the Scrum Master has to be really good.

This is a relatively simple approach and helps the team inspect and adapt continuously.

P.S. If you are in India, and haven’t taken this “Are we Really Agile Survey” then, I recommend you do so right away : http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=uFtT7z80mHpM7hGvLFJtZg_3d_3d [it will only take a couple of minutes and is straight forward multiple choice survey].

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