Daily retrospectives are is not a new idea, but it is important to recognise and re-iterate that there are other things than just running a retrospective at the end of each iteration.
Consider the heart of Agile for a moment – it is a reflective improvement framework aimed at dealing with the complexities of imperfect human beings and software development. If the heart if Agile is reflecting to improve why are we only doing it once an iteration? Should we not be ideally aiming to do it more often, or most importantly, when it is most needed?
So to re-iterate, here are the steps to enabling daily retrospectives:
- Whomever owns the daily standup meeting invitation updates it to tack on an extra ten minutes. This doesn’t necessarily mean you will use this extra ten minutes each standup but it is there if you need it. Regardless having an extra ten minutes booked into everyone’s calendar is always a good plan in order to deal with off-lined conversations or road blocks that were bogging the standup down.
- Put up a board near your story wall that has the questions that you want to be addressed as part of your retrospective – for example ‘what’s working well’, ‘lessons learnt’, ‘what still puzzles me’, ‘what to do differently’.
- Throughout the day if you have something that you would normally put up against your retrospective questions then jot it down on a post it note, with your initials circled next to it.
- The next time you pass the wall check to see if that item is already on the wall or not. If it isn’t put it up, if it is, add your initials next to it. This is a great opportunity for you to check other notes that are up on the wall and if you agree with the item add your initials.
- Every now and then as you pass the retrospective wall if you see something new then read it. If you agree add your initials, this is like social networking ‘+1 like’.
- Agree to a ‘like limit’. For intensive purposes this behaves like a work in progress limit.
- Once you have reached the like limit at the end of the next stand-up you will invoke the extra ten minutes and ‘pull’ that liked retrospective note into play. Discuss the item as per a normal retrospective but don’t cover off any of the other notes. If required delve into the root cause and ensure that you have clear SMART actions. Any actions should end up being a card that is prioritised by the team and added at the appropriate place into the backlog.
- If necessary discuss how often the wall should be purged of singular notes. This may mean that the practice evolves to include adding a date for when it is initially raised.
- No long meeting to discuss the iteration at length, but the time might end up being the same in the long term if you are pulling a daily retrospective often enough.
- Focussing on problems sooner rather than later (assuming it gets liked quickly enough)
- Focusses on items of greater importance but still gives great broad visibility