Retrospectives: A Tool For Continuous Improvement

Comments: 0 Filed Under: Agile Teams Coaching Retrospectives Meetings

Many leaders focus on improving productivity and performance. Leaders who support regular retrospectives gain an effective organizational learning tool that guides project teams (and ongoing work groups) to reflect on their technical, human and organizational systems that affect performance. A well-facilitated retrospective gathers together significant project stakeholders (including the development team members and other critical players) to review their project experience, learn from the experience, and take action to improve - in the next iteration, the next release, and for all future projects.

Does your organization utilize retrospectives as part of its project management goals? If not, here are some simple...

Set the Stage with Check-ins

Author: Diana Larsen Comments: 1 Filed Under: Retrospectives

Coincidence is a funny thing. Have you noticed that some topic/issue/concept/activity will come up in your life, then for a while you bump into it everywhere? Happens to me all the time. Lately, I’ve been bumping into new ideas for check-in activities, and reminders about familiar ones.

Adaptive Action Method: An HSD Retrospective

Author: Staff Comments: 0 Filed Under: Agile Teams Retrospectives Human Systems Dynamics

Diana has written previously about the Human Systems Dynamics Institute and their excellent program that provides models and methods for dealing with our VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world of complex adaptive human systems. In this post she focuses on the HSD Adaptive Action model and its unexpected connection to retrospectives:

In 2006 Esther and I introduced a Flexible Framework for Agile Retrospectives, a series of stages for designing effective retrospectives: Set the Stage; Gather Data; Generate Insights; Decide What to Do; and Close the Retrospective. We recommended a recurring cycle of retrospectives after each iteration as a process for the team to "reflect, tune and adjust", as the Agile Manifesto principle decrees.

Project Weather

Author: Diana Larsen Comments: 0 Filed Under: Agile Teams Developing People Retrospectives

Add "Project Weather" to your retrospective design to both "Set the Stage" and "Close the Retrospective". As an opening, it provides a useful segue into creating a shared story and begins the process of gathering data. As a closing, it illustrates any shifts in team members' perspectives that have occurred as a result of their collaboration in the retrospective.

To Prepare:

Create a pre-drawn flip chart with a heading at the top: Project Weather. Add hand drawn graphics across the top, like a sun coming out from behind clouds, clouds and rain, or even the occasional tornado! Divide the flip chart...

The Art of Agile: NYC

Author: Staff Comments: 0 Filed Under: Agile Teams Developing People Leadership

Take your Agile knowledge to the next level and learn how to effectively implement Agile methods to make ‘good’ teams brilliant.

Join industry experts, James Shore and Diana Larsen, for an in-depth immersion into real-world Agile development. Learn how to plan and deliver Agile projects and practice doing so in real teams delivering working software. The training emphasizes real-word experiences and promotes a hands-on approach for students.

Work-Life Balance: What Does It Mean to You?

Author: Sharon Buckmaster Comments: 1 Filed Under: Developing People Leadership People & Places

In December 2011, cbsnews.com published an article by Dave Logan, Ph.D., author of Tribal Leadership, suggesting that “work-life balance “ is a crock, an idea whose time has come and gone. Although I too have felt that this is an unrealistic ideal, I’m not so sure that I could clearly articulate what I do believe about this idea. I decided to take a look at some other current commentators writing about work and life balance. Here’s a sample of what I found:

David Greuse at Convergence Design, noted that “…we reject the notion of work-life balance, although...

An Opportunity: Strategies for Responding to Today’s Unpredictable, Complex and Emergent Environments

Author: Diana Larsen Comments: 0 Filed Under: Agile Teams Coaching Developing People

As part of my commitment to my own professional development, a few months ago I attended a certification training program on effective practices in organizational change and leadership development. Although it required more time commitment than usual on my part, I found the experience well worth it. I would make the same decision again if I had it to do over. So when I heard that the Human Systems Dynamics Institute was bringing its HSDP Certification Training Program to Portland in January 2012, I wanted to share my experiences and how the HSD methodology has positively impacted my practice and my work with my clients.

If Men Are From Mars, and Women from Venus, What Then?

Author: Sharon Buckmaster Comments: 0 Filed Under: Developing People

Some months ago I read a fascinating article from the British newspaper, The Guardian, forwarded to me by a colleague who knows my interest in the area of what is commonly called “gender intelligence”, or the relationship between brain chemistry and structure and male/female behaviors. Written by Madeleine Bunting, the article claims that virtually all of the scientific studies purporting to show that there are indeed, biological differences between men and women, are either misleading or so badly bungled that their results have no merit. She claims that the so-called breakthroughs in neuroscience, genetics, and evolutionary psychology suggesting the feminist consensus of the last 30 or so years that gender is entirely a social construct may be inaccurate, simply wrong or bad science.

Teamwork Required

Author: Staff Comments: 0 Filed Under: Agile Teams Developing People Leadership Culture and Change

Our experience thus far has been that while self-organizing teams may enable the organization to operate from day to day without active management, a more integrated organization and more productive teams make the value-add of managers highly transparent and place a premium on specific leadership skills.

From Adam Light, Chris Vike and Diana Larsen. "Teamwork Required: Managing Agile Application Delivery in a Matrix Organization", Cutter Agile Product & Project Management Executive Update, Vol. 12, No. 19. October 2011.

For a free download of the article pdf, register at the Cutter site. You can also order reprints from Cutter to use...

The Art of Managing in an Agile World 2-Day Workshop

Author: Staff Comments: 0 Filed Under: Agile Coaching Events

December 12 & 13 8:30 am – 5:30 pm Hotel Vintage Plaza 422 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97205

Price: $1750 per participant* Group Rate: Register 3 or more participants at $1550 per person

REGISTER

The workshop is limited to 18 participants, so make sure to reserve your spot soon!

Course Overview Managers have a unique role to fulfill in an Agile world. Whether leading a shift to Agile methods or guiding a newly Agile organization, effective managers join their current skills with strategic tools learned in this course to keep people and teams on track. This course gives you the hands-on experience and builds the...

Retrospectives and Double-Loop Learning

Author: Diana Larsen Comments: 0 Filed Under: Retrospectives

Over at her "Insights You Can Use" blog Esther Derby has posted two pieces on how teams can benefit from the lens of Double Loop Learning in their retrospectives. Chris Argyris first wrote about the concept of single and double loop learning in the 1970's. Esther offers a specific application for Agile teams with:

A short essay, "Promoting Double Loop Learning in Retrospectives"

and

A slideshow, "Double Loop Learning in Retrospectives II"

To learn more about Chris Argyris and his theories of action, including double loop learning, see:

Smith, M. K. (2001) 'Chris Argyris: theories of action, double-loop...

Recognizing Impediments

Author: Diana Larsen Comments: 6 Filed Under: Agile Teams

Team member: How will we know when we've found an impediment? What do they look like?

Sponsor: How can I know what impediments block our teams' productivity?

Scrum Master: How can I get the team to mention impediments in our daily meeting and retrospectives?

Product Owner: Why is everyone whining about impediments? Why don't we just get the work done?

It's all fine and well to say identify and remove impediments but often we bump up against a stumbling block, find a way around, and make things work anyway without further thought. It's second nature. Moving forward is what's important. And,...

Ishikawa for Looking Ahead

Author: Diana Larsen Comments: 3 Filed Under: Agile Teams Retrospectives

In a article at the Six Sigma IQPC site, Christian Loyer offers a new twist on the old fishbone diagram root cause analysis approach.

He describes the usual application of a fishbone diagram for digging in to solve a problem. In addition to Ishikawa's Ms for manufacturing fishbones that Christian mentions, I've also used Ps or Ss. You don't have to stick with these. Try to think of all the factors present in your organizational system that can affect your current project, and come up with your own fishbone alphabet. :)

During a retrospective, the traditional...

Do Don't Try

Author: Diana Larsen Comments: 0 Filed Under: Agile Teams Retrospectives

Martin Jul writes about a retrospective activity in the post "Retrospectives - Adapting to Reality." He describes an interesting process for highlighting issues in the Generating Insights part of a retrospective session.

In this activity we mark out three sections on a whiteboard: "DO" is where we put the things we should do or keep doing. This is all the things that makes us more efficient. We don't list all the good practises, just the ones we are currently learning and need to do consciously until they become habits. An example could be "Talk to the customer about the requirements...