In all my experience as a PM and subsequently as an agile/scrum enthusiast (OK, I guess evangelist!), the most misunderstood and often most avoided element is the dreaded lessons learned or retrospectives. Is it an ingrained fear to face what went wrong that we hide behind excuses to not have them?
The essence of a retrospective is the same whether we are having ONE at the end of a project, or one at the end of each sprint: to inspect what has been done, analyze the good, the bad and the ugly (sorry Clint) and adapt so we can leverage that lesson next project or sprint. It is the essence of any agile framework a continuous cycle of inspection/adaptation.
I am guilty of not being a good retrospective facilitator, which is why I engage the experts I know to help me there. So in order to become more effective, I have been reading a book by Esther Derby and Diana Larsen(1).I must say I was wary of the “Retrospective Gods” titles given to the authors, but as I read the book, I find myself drawn by their approach and can almost feel in a room with them talking about the topic (which I would love to do at some point!).
We sometimes tend to shy away from hard lessons, but let’s remember that retrospectives is also about the positives that we have experienced in the past sprint and understanding how we can continue them in the next one.
Inspect/adapt, Inspect/adapt, Inspect/adapt – and let the team help you understand how to be more effective and productive!
1 Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great, by Esther Derby and Diana Larsen, foreword by Ken Schwaber (Click on the image below for more information)