Without care and attention, retrospectives become stale and ineffective. And this is likely with distributed teams, where it is easy to put yourself on mute and start answering email instead of focusing on your team.
In this webinar, we explored how you can keep retrospectives engaging, and impactful. We'll focus on helping distributed teams identify the frameworks that allow them to improve performance.
Ben Linders: Ben Linders is an Independent Consultant in Agile, Lean, Quality and Continuous Improvement, based in The Netherlands. As an adviser, coach, and trainer, he helps organizations by deploying effective software development and management practices. He focuses on continuous improvement, collaboration, communication, and professional development to deliver business value to customers. Ben is an active member of networks on Agile, Lean, and Quality and a well-known speaker and author. He shares his experiences on a bilingual blog, as an editor for Culture and Methods at InfoQ, and as an expert in communities such asComputable, Quora, DZone, and TechTarget.
CShahzad Zafar: CShahzad Zafar is an Engineering Manager at Cerner Corporation. He is also an Agile Coach, facilitates several Agile trainings and has been leading Agile development teams since 2009 at Cerner. Shahzad has a degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2005 and also received his Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Kansas in 2009. He joined Cerner in 2005, working on C++ and Java. He got the benefit of seeing projects being run in a waterfall methodology before transitioning to Agile development. As an Agile coach, Shahzad gets the opportunity to setup productive and successful teams by leveraging Lean/Agile methodologies. Currently, he is leading a cloud services development business unit and the Agile Center of Excellence at Cerner.
Laura Richardson: Laura Richardson is passionate about technology and about helping customers find powerful solutions to pressing problems. She brings 20 years of sales and management experience to Conteneo Inc., including seven years at Uptime Resources where she ran the IT professional services division. Her team managed all aspects of technology in the San Francisco. Laura was the business development director at E-Color where she and her team launched an image and color optimization engine to improve the reliability of online images used by large e-commerce sites from companies. She spent 4 years of her career with ObjectSpace. As Sales Director, she helped large Fortune accounts successfully adopt object-oriented technology and iterative development practices.
Question 1: How do you encourage people to take ownership? Once some do, do the others typically follow?
Answer: Let’s consider some of the impediments that may be identified in a retrospective. Suppose a team needs resources (like another server) to complete their project. The ScrumMaster, in service to the team, should handle this kind of impediment. Practically, this means the ScrumMaster should have an impediment backlog clearly available to everyone. Another kind of impediment might be one associated with the behavior of the team itself. In this case we find that Scrum Teams get the best results when they use the Scrum framework to address the impediment: working with their PO to get the impediment added to the backlog and then addressing the impediment in a sprint — including defining acceptance criteria to help ensure that the impediment won’t come back!
Question 2: Don’t you think that changing coaches might confuse the team?
Answer: It could be confusing at first, but it’s not uncommon for organizations to have a team of coaches, where coaches have their own specialties or focus. As long as the coach sticks to the purpose of the retrospectives and facilitates the meeting properly, there’s no reason for people to be confused.
Question 3: Wouldn’t it be hard for the team to be open when a different person, one not on the team, is facilitating?
Answer: As long as that person is clearly independent, doesn’t have specific things that they want the team to take action on, is genuinely interested in how the team is doing their work, and is driven to find those actions that would help the team to take a next step, why should team not be open? And of course there’s the ground rule that everything that comes up stay within the team. As they say in the U.S., ͞What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.͟