Agile book review team lead

Agile Retrospectives (inspect and adapt)

Well, I said I would try and minimize the leadership aspects of this blog, but have been focusing on trying to help my team more with deadlines looming. One thing I will be doing with the team is trying to get them to help me help them 😛 Also, I suspect that I will be focusing on more and more Agile workflow models as I feel there are still a lot of hints of waterfall in the current system. Thus, my venture into trying to understand and apply these new ideas. I have some understanding of agile from my previous work at Leap In Entertainment where management there did a good job of applying Agile methodologies (without having to label everyone pigs or chickens).

I, however need a bit more information about agile as a whole (and will delve into other books on managing extreme programming etc.) and have begun absorbing the knowledge from online resources and library books. One that caught my attention was Ester Derby and Diana Larsen book Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great after I stumbled upon their video presentation Agile Retrospectives Talk. Of course “making good teams great” is exactly what I want to accomplish…

The need for retrospectives is to “inspect and adapt” the project and processes before the project is finished (i.e. while there is still time to improve the processes). Derby and Larsen recommend a commitment to doing retrospectives every iteration (in my case every two weeks) so that we can fix things before waiting until the end (and it being too late). Some of the things to investigate are the patterns that show how we work together, and determining what works and what doesn’t, bringing up problems to solve and finding and reinforcing team strengths.

With this is mind I will try and focus on both the productivity and satisfaction of the team, and experiment, experiment, experiment. With each iteration hopefully we can see what worked from the previous retrospective and what did not. By finding out what does not work and recording it we will at least be less likely to keep repeating the same mistakes.

The breakdown that the book (and video suggest) are in five stages (page 19):

Set the stage
Gather Data
Generate insight
Decide what to do
Close the retrospective

The book also recommends allocating some shuffle time as well for very long iterations.

My focus for our next sprint/retrospective will be for trying to examine and explain what works and what does not, how well are we applying coding standards, how well are we refactoring, how well are working as a team and meeting our deadlines.

Wish me luck,

P.S. The book is also on Scribd: Agile Retrospectives on Scribd

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