Many consider the retrospective to be an agile team’s most powerful tool for continuous improvement. The retrospective captures learning and insights while experiences are fresh, and the lessons are immediately applied to the teams on-going work. A discussion on the Retrospectives Yahoo Group examined how to adapt a retrospective to work across multiple sites, with a distributed team.
A month has passed since Agile 2009 and there is now a good variety of feedback on the conference, the sessions and what participants found most valuable.
Once all your teams use Agile and are busy implementing local improvements, what happens to the larger organization formerly called "IT" or "Systems Development"? A coach with a large Agile program shared the strategy they designed to let the larger community spot trends and benefit from all this learning. Paulo Caroli calls it "Retrospective of Retrospectives".
Agile retrospective helps the team examine what went well during the past sprint and identify the areas of improvement for the future sprints. However, sometimes the exercise of conducting a retrospective ends up as a futile effort due to lack of preparation. Moreover, key members of the team end up either not attending or not participating in the meeting.
A sprint burn-down chart tracks the size of the sprint backlog over the course of the sprint. During the sprint retrospective, the burn-down chart can provide valuable data about how the sprint went. Mike Sutton uses annotations to capture more data on the burn-down chart, making it even more useful during the retrospective.
Sebastian Hermida has put together a free online tool to help teams get a better understanding of how well they're doing adopting agility. The site, abetterteam.org, is based on the "Assess Your Agility" quiz Jim Shore and Shane Warden include in their book, The Art Of Agile Development.
Recently there has been an active discussion in the Scrum Development Yahoo Group about handling an "under-performing" team member. In the 130+ response thread, "Rotten apple in Scrum team", talk ranged from advice for the primary question, to talk of team morale and who manages it, to the classic debate of measuring individuals, to distinguishing whether a team is really a "team", and more.
A number of SOA authors and analysts have been making their predictions for where SOA will be going in 2009. Common amongst them are the increasing use of small-scale bottom-up SOA developments, cloud meeting SOA (and maybe taking over some of its hype) and the adoption of open source as a way to cut costs as well as drive adoption.
Advice from Esther Derby, George Dinwiddie, Jo Geske, Mike Sutton and Ilja Preuss on how to make retrospectives better. The ideas include tips for the facilitator/Scrum Master and new ways to use the burndown chart.
Kevin Schlabach discusses using a "Snake On The Wall", a lightweight approach targeted at helping your team get a better handle on the things that are slowing the development process.
In the Wall Street Journal, Sam Culbert argues that annual performance and pay reviews are at best dysfunctional. He sees their primary purpose as "intimidation aimed at preserving the boss's authority and power advantage". Jeff Sutherland, Mary Poppendieck, ... offer alterantives
Agile teams may find it easy to talk about change during their retrospectives, but not so easy to make that change actually happen. Esther Derby, well-known thought-leader on the human aspects of software development, recounts an experience from her personal improvement efforts to illustrate this and offer a few suggestions on how to succeed with making change actually happen.
In this presentation filmed during Agile 2008, Tim Mackinnon talks about the aspirations behind the Agile principles and practices, the desire to become efficient, to write quality code which does not end up being thrown away. Tim has a personal perspective on Agile practices and shares from his own experience.
In this presentation filmed during QCon London 2007, Boris Gloger speaks about retrospectives. Agile development teams learn and improve by inspecting and adapting. High performing teams inspect and adapt not only their code and tests, but also their methods and interactions.
Andy Hunt's interview last month talks about his progression from pragmatic programmer to Agile development to his latest interest – Pragmatic Wetware. "Wetware is the stuff in your head. That's the thing between your ears that's really where all the action is – that's where all the software development actually takes place."