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The Retrospective - Too busy to improve?


No matter how well your doing Scrum there's always the opportunity to improve!

The process of improvement should be a continual daily task but it's also one on the 4 meetings or ceremonies that should occur within every sprint, for more information on each of the other ceremonies within Scrum take a look at my earlier blog post http://christianleemiles.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/the-ten-must-dos-of-scrum.html

The Retrospective like all Scrum ceremonies should be timed boxed... An hour is usually enough and they usually occur towards the end of the sprint.

The entire Scrum team should attend and that includes the product owner.... If you can manage it!

There are numerous ways to conduct the retrospective... And I'm sure every Scrum Master and team has their own take on the process!

My first task in any retrospective is usually a review or status feedback on the effect of the previous retrospective... Did we implement the changes we said we would? what was the effect? Should we continue with the changes?

It shouldn't need saying but you should ask every team member for their feedback and thoughts and openly discuss areas that are not working well and what is working well.

A common technique is to identity whats being done or could be done and to ask the below questions:
  • Start doing?
  • Stop doing?
  • Continue doing?

After brainstorming you will hopefully have a list of ideas which can then be discussed and as a group a decision taken on how and what items to advance. 

One technique I sometimes use is to run the retrospective as if it was a mini Sprint in itself.

Ideas and improvements are converted into user stories and written up on postcards.... We estimate the effort required to implement the change (using agile poker) and we order the stories in sequence discussing the effort required to complete verses advantage! 

Try and keep this process 'real' by using postcards or post-it notes... It's far better to discuss user stories when you have a physical representation and something to move around and sequence in real life! You could perhaps give each member of the team a user story and ask them to place it where they think it belongs in the sequence - as a team then discuss and move the cards around until happy!  
We then select the top few user stories and implement the changes into the next sprint... In the next retrospective we discuss if the stories were delivered and what the effect was!

Thanks for reading,

Christian Miles