image: © Alan Levine (CC 0 Public Domain)

Dear manager,

At the end of each iteration, oftentimes shortly after you visited a Review, you see your Scrum team(s) retreat to their team rooms (or the cantine, or a terrace) to collaboratively play, curse, draw, sit (silenty thinking), laugh and participate in intens discussions. They seem to do everything but getting some actual work done. What’s going on? What’s the value in that?

Part of our agile mindset is that we can always do better. This means that if we don’t perform better this sprint (or iteration) than the sprint before, we have lost an opportunity to deliver additional value.

We find it hard to do our daily, value adding, work and at the same time reflect to become more effective in the way we work. We have found that to deliver value we have to be engaged in the matter at hand, with strong focus on the current task. But exactly this engagement and focus oftentimes does not allow us to take a step back, reflect and spot the stuff we need to improve.

That’s why we have chosen to make some time for engaged and focused reflection on the way we work, to become more effective. In fact, this is Agile Principle 12:

At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

Manifesto for Agile Software Development

The Retrospective is the repeating ritual that fosters the continuous improvement we strive for. It aims to develop a sustainable value stream to our customers and users.

Improvement in the way work can be in many areas: technical tools, the way we collaborate within the team, the way we communicate with you (our managers), the way we do our testing or the way the Product Owner collaborates with the Dev Team. In our retrospectives we refelct on how we performed and explore ways to improve. The outocome of the Retrospectives are insights and actions.

Some of the benefits for your organizations you can expect from Agile Retrospectives are (from Gonçalves 2015):

  • Energised, motivated teams
  • Team members can let go of their frustrations
  • Team building leads to gelled teams
  • A ritual that fosters continuous improvement
  • Improvement serves the value adding stream to the customers
  • Teams are empowered
  • Team positivity is raised in agile retrospectives
  • Retrospective enable teams to collaboratively formulate how you, the manager, can help them to improve their performance

I hope this letter has given you some insight in what Agile Retrospectives can do for your teams and your organisation as a whole. If you have any questions or if I can help you in any other way, feel free to contact me.




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