Three Breaths

Musings on code, management, and life

New Team - First Retrospective

Posted at — Oct 20, 2009

Rally recently held a “success tour” event in Boston. I have been using Rally for about 18 months, but recently began using it on a team that is new to Agile, so I was interested in seeing if I could pick up anything that would help ease the transition. The event started with a roundtable of executives who have successfully used Rally, and a quote that hit home for me was from Jochen Krebs who said “every team needs to find its own unique path within the Scrum framework”. Joechen’s presentation at the Boston event can be found here (you have to hit the “older” button a few times to get to his presentation).

An interesting follow-up to Jochen’s presentation was given by Heather Kanser who pointed out the danger of teams “cherry-picking” the parts of Agile that they wanted. Their talks were complimentary as Jochen’s comment about teams finding their own path was “within the Scrum framework”.

I came from a team that has had good success using Rally and Agile in a particular way, and one of the challenges for me has been to tailor the approach for a new team. We’ve been introducing some new processes and adoption has been a challenge for both sides. We introduced some new processes about how we do releases and validation, and recently pushed out a new release of the software. It seemed like a good time for a retrospective. Of course, if I read my own posts, I would have remembered that the right time for the first retrospective may have been right when I first joined the team.

The comments for “what did we do well” were very encouraging. Collaboration, better testing, delivering what we promised, fixing architectural issues were all mentioned. I was particularly pleased that delivery of promised features and improved testing were included. These were areas that I pushed hard for and it was gratifying for the team to see the value. It is always nice too when you hear team members say “that can wait for the next release”. I think one of the hardest parts of initially adopting Agile is having faith that regular releases will provide an opportunity for more incremental improvements down the road. Delivering what you promised is more important than trying to add more features near the end of the development cycle.

There was some good discussion about what we could do better. This was one of those times where as I heard at the Rally event, the team needed to find its own flavor. I tried to stay back a bit from the technical aspects and work more to facilitate the discussion. It was very interesting to see how what we thought were the most important items to address evolved over the meeting. We have some actions and a follow-up meeting scheduled. Should be interesting.

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