Retrospectives – the engine of change
by Julia Schmidt
The most used project management method in companies is probably called: Let’s do it like the last time. A huge amount of projects at the same time, time pressure and our comfort zone: „We always did it that way“ impeds us from changing project processes.
Most projects do not fail because of missing technical know-how from involved parties but fail because of missing or badly organized communication (Projektmanagement Studie 2007).
The agile project management offers different method components to cope with complex requirements. One of these method components is the retrospective:
„The team reflects at regular intervals on how
to become more effective and adapts
its behavior accordingly.“
(http://agilemanifesto.org/principles.html, 12 Principles behind the Agile Manifesto)
The retrospective needs a steering and constantly learning team. The classic „Lessons Learned“ examines the whole project process. The retrospective in Agile project management is taking place at regular intervals through the whole project.
The project team reflects their own procedure. In addition to all implicit and explicit rules and presumptions the previous learned behaviour from all involved persons is substance in a retrospective.
Therefore the intention of a retrospective is constant reflection of project processes and obtains constant changes and improvements of the process.
The retrospective sets on iterative and incremental changes. The measures agreed upon in a retrospective are small and visible. They range near to the comfort zone of all involved persons to accomplish.
The fear of change and the fear of admiting mistakes prevents project members from huge changes in one step. In a self-monitored team the practicability of measures can be assured by a good moderation. Every measure needs to fit to the team and their project environment.
Meetings without concrete outcome are a risk when inventing retrospectives. A good moderation stops the team from getting stuck in discussions about symptoms and leads them to the causes of impediments and phenomenons. To ensure the efficiency of a retrospective proceed in six phases:
- Set the Stage
- Gather Data
- Generate Insights
- Decide what to do
- Close the Retrospective
In dependance of the current team- and project phase the moderator should choose different moderation methods to support the team by finding measures.
Well moderated retrospectives help clearing up unexpressed topics and undetected blockades. Teams following the method can optimise their work and everyone in the team has the opportunity to accept and implement these little changes.
Julia Schmidt is an agile coach and works with BERATUNG JUDITH ANDRESEN (www.judithandresen.com).