Agile Retrospective, An easy way to misunderstand Agile

Retrospective generally means to take a look back at events that already have taken place. In Agile Software Development, at the end of every iteration a retrospective is held to look for ways to improve the process for the next iteration.

Few years ago, I came across something called AI (Appreciative Inquiry) Retrospective. This type of retrospective focuses on “celebrating the good result” and “gathering necessary improvement” for coming iteration.  Since I knew about it, I never had thought about the classic retrospective meeting until someone said to me “s/he feels like sitting in Jeremy show (This is where people come to argue and my assumption is, no one wise human ever watches these shows, at least I haven’t)” while sitting in this kind of meeting.

Here is what I suggested them.

1. Look for alternate types:
It’s easy that few people who has got art of speaking will speak more and dominate the meeting. In something like AI retrospective, everyone gets their turn to speak and make suggestion.  Some detail about this method can be found here.

2. Collect enough data during the iteration.
It’s important to have enough data so that any changes required in the team and process can be forced to the sponsor.

3. Don’t forget Agile Manifesto (Self Organized Team)
As the manifesto says, agile team is self organized team. Face to face communication between the team is important. When one of the team member sees any problem, it’s important to raise this with team.  So, don’t wait until team of the management is in the meeting to mention the problems and No, it doesn’t prove you smart.

4. Never blame a team member in retrospective
I assume, as a team, you run daily stand up, reviews and all other quality testing tools, methodologies which should give you an idea of issue within the iteration. So, don’t wait until retrospective to improve things. If you are waiting, its your mistake. So, don’t blame other member of team.

5. Don’t involve sponsors in these meetings.
It’s my very personal view but it may be that, blame culture can be developed just because one of team member is trying to get an attention of sponsors.

So, whole point of adapting Agile methodology is to have self organized team, increase communication and visibility and improve the results all the time. Doing it wrongly, only lower the moral of the team, even if it’s half an hour meeting every two weeks.
Hope It was a help for the struggling team.

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