Well, surprise surprise, the Surround SCM manager asked me to do the retrospective for Surround SCM 2011. I did warn him that the Agile retrospective is fundamentally different from a Waterfall retrospective. The last one that we had was led by Grant (check out his blog, it’s hilarious: Crouching tiger, coding monkey) and was a very entertaining PowerPoint presentation (at least as entertaining as a PowerPoint presentation can be) about analyzing bug counts, estimations and deadlines. An Agile retrospective is a lot different – it’s more of a discussion than a presentation. I was a facilitator instead of a lecturer. The retrospective was far later than it should’ve been based on the Agile methodology, but I think that it went well and was still valuable.
I scheduled the retrospective for a Friday afternoon and brought in candy as a reward for anyone willing to speak up. I have to admit that I was a tad afraid that I’d ask the team for input and all I’d hear was crickets chirping. The goal was to discuss what went well, what did not go so well, and come up with some suggestions for how we could do better next time. I decided to go all out and I drew a boat on the white board so that we could put post-its by the sails for what went well (wind in our sails) and below the water for what did not go well (anchors dragging us down). A little corny, yes, but it was actually nice to have a visual representation, and I would’ve run out of room if I was trying to write on the white board instead of on post-its. I invited the developers and QA testers on the Surround SCM team, the Surround SCM product owner, the Surround SCM manager, and the development manager.
Everyone was in good spirits and happy to talk. We ran through one-liners about what went well and what didn’t go well, and then went back and discussed each one in detail. My boss was fearful that it would turn into a gripe session/blame game, but we kept it on track. At the end, I did have to make room on the white board so that I could write down the team’s suggestions for what could go better next time.
<Mustache Pete posing for the Agile picture>
I think that the retrospective was valuable and went well. Since the Surround team isn’t doing Agile, we won’t be able to have one at the end of every sprint, but I think that having the Agile retrospective at the end of the release was still more valuable than the normal lecture-based retrospective.