leanpizza.net - tasty Agile… one slice at a time – by Olivier Lafontan

Large Organisations,Retrospective

March 1, 2011

“With insight…”

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Insight

“noun

  1. the ability to see and understand clearly the inner nature of things, esp. by intuition
  2. a clear understanding of the inner nature of some specific thing
    1. Psychol. awareness of one’s own mental attitudes and behavior
    2. Psychiatry recognition of one’s own mental disorder”

How many times have you heard people say that with insight, they wouldn’t have done something this way, or that they would have not said something, or that they wouldn’t have failed to deliver a project.

Truth is, insight as defined in point 1 and 2 above is extremely hard to achieve when working on hard and complex projects or programmes. I would go as far as saying that it is impossible. However, it can be fabricated, somehow engineered.

Most Agile approaches preach the utilisation of some form of retrospection, performed at regular and preferably short intervals. When done as they should, they allow teams to create a form of insight, and bizarrely, when the said interval is short enough, it feels like it gives them the ability to go back in time and “fix” the things they didn’t get right the first time, without incurring the negative effects or debt they would have otherwise suffered without this ceremony.

Create insight in your teams, don’t forget your continuous improvement discipline and you’ll soon see teams getting bolder and better at delivering working software, one day at a time.

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  1. Great suggestion. I would add that the business needs to make sure teams are given enough time to reflect and try new experiments to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. Also, mistakes should be tolerated, so that teams aren’t afraid to try something new. A culture of learning is essential to gaining insight and continuously learning IMO.

    Comment by Lisa Crispin — March 1, 2011 @ 10:56 pm
  2. Absolutely agree with you Lisa, this time should be “carved” out for the team as part of a management discipline as well, although it can prove difficult at times when the management only sees the team “talking” in a room instead of being at their desks delivering the product…

    When coaching, I do my best to invite managers to these meetings as they, too, have things to explore with the team. One error is to treat management as isolated parties, with no context and no input to the continuous learning process. However, management sometimes prefers being treated as a third parties and don’t want to participate to these essential ceremonies.

    And yes, making mistakes should not be sanctioned as long as learning is extracted from them and they are rectified in a timely fashion.

    Comment by Oli — March 2, 2011 @ 10:49 am

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