Retrospect Life!

Photo courtesy: Pavel Danilyuk

“If you adopt only one agile practice let it be retrospectives. Everything else will follow.” – Woody Zuill.

I find it a very meaningful and thought-provoking quote.

It’s been a week since I have been reminiscing about the memories of running an Agile workshop at Cambridge in 2017-18. So I decided why not pen it down as a blog to reiterate the importance of Inspection and Adaptation in our work and perhaps our personal lives too.

Importance of Inspection and Adaptation

Imagine babies taking their first step and they have a fall, the second time they walk past the same place they fell last time, they will hold onto something or be cautious about the fall. That is a good example for Inspection and Adaptation for me.

This quality is imbibed and wired into our brains at birth. So, this blog is just about cultivating that as a habit and making it a culture in your lives.

As adults, we have our moments of successes and failures. We naturally try to avoid committing the same mistake as we did in the past  by adjusting our behaviour for a better outcome the next time.

There are a few people whom I know, who retrospect their personal lives on a set cadence to improve their relationships. It can be on an individual level or on a family level or even on a group level too.

We all lead our lives successfully by continuously improving ourselves every moment, every day. The reason we do it is to better our ways of living and lead a happy life.

How Can One Practice Inspection and Adaptation at Work?

How do I practise this at my work?  After World War II, Japanese businesses practised a term called ‘Kaizen’, which is also known as ‘Change for better’ or  ‘Continuous Improvement’ aka lessons learned. Whether you work in IT or non-IT, inspection and adaptation are considered to be very basic and essential yet important aspects of growth.

You assess your current position, work on those adjustments needed to help you perform better, and to deliver the optimal value to your customers.

I work in the IT side of things and lessons learned or a Retrospective is a very common word that’s heard. What is Retrospective anyways?

With the evolution of Scrum, Retrospective has been taken more seriously too. There are many articles, blogs out there that talk about the Agile mindset, so I am not going to write anything about it here. However, with more and more people fine tuning their thinking towards continuously improving their ways of working, Retrospective has just become more prominent and meaningful.

There are several ways of conducting, hosting, and facilitating a Retrospective meeting. I shall stay away from using the term ‘Lessons Learned’ in this blog. However, it conveys the same meaning as Retrospective.

A couple of years ago I conducted a workshop at Agile Cambridge on how to make your retrospectives more fun. I’ve explained different techniques of running a Retrospective within your teams, namely:

  • Glad, Mad & Sad
  • The Starfish
  • The Flying Kite
  • The Elephant and the Mouse
  • The Sailing Boat and so on….

Don’t Miss the Point

You may retrospect your pattern from the past, be it People, Process, infrastructure, logistics, quality of the product or services. The intent is to:

  • Inspect and Adapt
  • Improve Continuously
  • Celebrate Success
  • Foster Transparency, Creativity and Openness within the Teams

A Few Anti-Patterns/Myths

  1. Retrospectives are only for the team members and PO should not be invited as we can’t be open about a few things.
  2. Retrospectives are optional meetings.
  3. Retrospectives are monotonous and have no real value in them.
  4. Retrospectives are a good place to vent out frustrations.
  5. Retrospectives are good to point fingers at others and get away with it.
  6. Retrospectives are held only towards the end of a Sprint/Iteration.
  7. We don’t have a Scrum Master in the team, so we don’t need any Retrospective meetings.
  8. We are a technical team and we don’t need any Retrospective meetings.

Let’s put the right step forward

I shall call this a beginning rather than an end. Let’s all take one step at a time to fine-tune our own personal and professional lives by inspecting our past and embracing new ways of leading our future.

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