Team says ‘can the retro’, actually is not a bad idea!

Retrospectives_Freeagilist

When it comes to continual improvement the first tool comes to the mind is an retrospective meeting. Of-course its a great tool that opens up avenues to speak equally and have say, even for the quietest member of the team, and it works! And this comes naturally to a long running self-organised functional team. Then arise a need to use different retrospectives formats and activities too to keep it interesting for this group. Introducing new activities, futurospectives, focused challenge solutions, mini improvements etc. (all designed for their context) to inspect and adapt every two weeks can last for a long time.

At one point team come to the terms and concludes, still its quite boring, as they just do the improvements on the fly whats agreed between them and keeps moving on. There goes the need to get rid of the retrospectives as a ceremony!

In a team retrospectives lose value due to 2 reasons;

  1. they get boring, monotonous
  2. they produce no actionable items that can’t be worked

Sounds familiar! Well, I think its a good sign if its coming from the team with a good intent. I would say its pretty common for a team to reach this milestone cherish it, indeed its a healthy sign of their maturity i.e. self-organised and high performing will replace the ceremonies that were designed to build these traits and right behaviors. One should not critically question it, rather embrace it and allow them to choose the mechanism they like to use and experiment, ultimately its for improvements.

While experimenting, be prepared as it wont be one the tool they will stick to for too long, as they will continue to nurture the experimental culture, learn and settle until they there is a need to change again. Again open to change is reaffirming, only ‘change’ is constant.

Next question to the facilitators arise, what are those other mechanisms for replacing basic ceremonies?

Below are few options that I tried and continue the search;

  • Survey’s – Random questions relevant to the context/situation!
  • Suggestion box – near the team’s area, physical wall
  • Vote Box – what to keep and adapt, any new ideas
  • Health radar – questionnaire to rate themselves and depicting it on a radar
  • Happiness index – physical or online
  • 360 degree feedback

Don’t be surprised if they feel a need to call a formal retrospective meeting to surface critical issues, this re-instates the importance the inspect and adapt mechanism embedded by this ceremony, once they decided to ditch!

I am eager to hear your thoughts, insights and learn from you, if you have been into similar situations, what other creative ways you embraced and any interesting tools techniques you used specifically or recommended to the teams. Appreciate for your comments and shared learning!

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Shri is an freelance agilist working as an agile coach/scrum master and passionate about bringing people together for a purpose and to work as one unit, right from forming till performing. Focused to deliver customer eccentric business outcomes. Also a critical thinker to tailor solutions within given constraints and context. Sharing the goodies of agile way of doing things learnt from others and experiential learning. Lean thinker. Love the concept of learn fast and move on to working solutions. Also a believer in people being the most essential part of the whole equation involved in building great products.

To learn more about my other blogs please visit https://freeagilist.com/

Follow me on twitter: @ShriTaralkar

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Dealing agile effectively in large organisations

High rise

Evidently it’s been an immense challenge for people introducing agility in large organisations, assessing the gap and need, many frameworks have been emerged and the most popular ones as you know are SAFe, LeSS, DAD, Spotify etc.. In my opinion all frameworks are good for the fact that they create hope for these organisations to discover and practice value driven initiatives as oppose to traditional sequential project based approach which is more prevalent because of the organisational system anchored over years.

Yes, you hear me right, if you peep into the operations every organisation has their own system and it exists parallel to the culture, sometimes the system itself is the culture. Whoever joins the company automatically inherits and becomes a part of it. The more they settle they become one of the roots. Just like any government organisations, they have lobbyists, committees, advisory boards etc. Similarly every large company or corporate has their own set.

Below are few key things I believe and practice to cope up as a Coach, Delivery lead, Scrum Master or a team member. I try to encourage agility within my vicinity in the similar environments I get to work with.

Create Partnerships: To build the engagement working with cross functional teams you are bound to come across roles that can create blockers for your swift delivery. Make them them a part of team change, bring them to your team ceremonies. Kickoff the initiative inviting all required influential people that would have input or contributions to the delivery. Meeting one-on-one with important people seeking feedback and giving updates ahead of time has always helped building long term Partnerships.

Master yourself on teaching: While building partnerships you need to allow them to learn the new way of working or doing things, take an opportunity to express and connect to the principles of agility and how they help to better understand situation and set the purpose.Embed value based conversations while focused on business outcomes.

Keep stakeholders informed: In my experience the last thing that the stakeholders want to know are the surprises, believe in them, they are real people with more responsibility, they are very much interested to know where the spend is going and if that is meeting the overall outcome for business strategy. Engage them and create a cadence for regular updates that will enable them to make informed decisions on the impediments, blockers issues and risks.

Uphold the team morale: Choose motivated individuals to begin with your journey towards agility. If teams are happy and have autonomy to solve the problems, they will innovate and produce better and desirable outcomes with ownership and accountability.

Organisational Conflicts of interest: There will be frictions for continuous flow, manoeuvre it and identify one or two areas of improvement, every time you hit the road block.Use ‘Value Stream Mapping’ to identify delays, it helps to analyse the time consuming activities in the flow, also can use Lean, Kaizen approaches for the same.

Find the moderators: Not everyone on the journey will be on board. as per HBR blog on uncertainty, in regards to changing the mindset in not so interested or enthusiast people, you need to channelise it through your trusted moderators, they are the people who understands the value and importance of your transformation approach, seek their help to become the bridge and try closing the gaps.
Generate interest on their teams, help them to get their things sorted with agility. Let them realise the value in it, that will be time consuming but the word will start spreading across.

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Shri is an agilist working as a Scrum Master and agile coach, passionate about bringing people together for a purpose to work as one unit right from forming till performing. Focused to deliver customer eccentric business outcomes. Also a critical thinker to tailor solutions within given constraints utilising the goodies of agile way of doing things. Lean thinker. Love the concept of fail fast, learn and  move on to build solutions. Also a believer in People being the most essential part of the whole equation in building products.

To learn more about me or my blogs please visit https://freeagilist.com/

Follow me on twitter: @ShriTaralkar