Retrospectives are a Powerful Tool

I’m a firm believer in retrospectives and the value that comes from a team committing to constant improvement.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been delivering Agile training to a wide range of folks from developers to testers to traditional PM’s to business folks and so on.  To demonstrate the power of retrospectives, at the end of the class we have a time-boxed retrospective that helps me deliver more value for future classes by understanding my customers and their needs.

Depending on how much time is left, as a class we decide which route to take for the retrospective.  Folks either brainstorm on stickies under the ‘well, not well, to try’ buckets or due to time constraint, people brainstorm aloud and I write them on the whiteboard.  Then we take 2 minutes to briefly talk about the point and vote on it’s validity.

Feedback from earlier sessions all f0llowed a similar pattern with people wanting more information and examples about their real situations and roles.  Through the first few sessions, this ‘not well’ item was constant so I adapted between classes to get more information related to the environment and real-life situations.

There’s a fine line between getting ‘into the weeds’ and staying on focus but through the feedback, more folks have found it useful to relate the Agile Manifesto values and principles to real examples and scenarios.  This particular class focuses on teaching Agile concepts and subsequent classes with the adjusted curriculum have said the real examples have been fantastic in helping them understand this magical thing called Agile.

While I do say ‘adjusted ciriculum’ the only thing that changes from class to class is relavent stories and examples that drive home the material, folks seem to really get it when they can relate.

I think it’s an important message that the attendees understand I am committed to constantly improving myself and the class delivery which gives them more of an understanding about why retrospectives are a powerful tool.