Taking The Time To Reflect and Improve, But Not Wander - Retrospection

At the end of every sprint the team retrospects on what happened. This isn’t a wandering conversation to chat about how everyone is doing over a long lunch. A focussed and well tuned team can wrap this meeting up while comfortably standing. About three minutes per team member. If there are four members the discussion can be closed in 12 minutes if the team is working well.

Like all good meetings the team does their homework BEFORE THE MEETING and posts their conclusions before retrospection starts. They don’t make it up when they arrive. This is important, they give it the time it deserves, in advance and the homework includes;

  • How happy are you? Out of 5, with 5 being the best, how happy are you with your role within the team, your performance and the support and resources you have to perform your role? And out of 5 again, how happy are you with the company? Do you think it is doing the right thing? Going in the right direction? Sum the two together and you have the happiness score.
  • And then, what would need to be improved to make you happier? Or, if you are really happy with how things are going what do you think we need to improve to make the team go faster? At least one improvement, but no more than three. And once again, this isn’t done on the fly, this is carefully thought through and posted prior to the meeting starting. Continuous improvement is the most important thing we can do.

The team meets. Each member speaks to their points and takes questions. The scrum master sums the points shipped and the happiness scores and determines if both have improved, stayed the same, or declined. Based upon the past performance the points capacity for the next sprint is set and the remaining points to ship the epic, if one is running, are totalled and the revised expected completion date and total points to ship the epic are tallied. If the date is slipping and found points are accumulating the Scrum Master makes it clear we are going to miss our target.

Happiness is a precursor of velocity, if it is down, then velocity will follow. Tackle why the team is less happy first and get consensus as to how it can be improved.

If this isn’t the case, focus on how to improve velocity. What improvement can the team make to increase velocity?

And then finally, what controls or scope reductions should be put in place to correct slipping dates and found point increases?

Add the improvement to the sprint backlog on the board and give it points. Then move cards from the backlog up to the sum of the capacity for the sprint, no more, to the sprint backlog, and do one last check to see if anything is missing.

Summarize the conclusions. How are we performing? Happiness, velocity and holding to estimated ship dates. How will we improve? And what’s the target for this sprint. It’s a wrap and the new sprint begins.