The culture of learning germinates at the moment an Agile team realizes its shortcomings and begins to take regular steps toward improvement. Implementing improvement practices throughout the sprint is necessary so that team members do not commit the same errors in the future. They evolve as individuals and contribute as better team players.
With this in mind, we decided to implement a continuous retrospective
method in our team. Team members were encouraged throughout the sprint to enter their experiences on a centralized, online retrospective spreadsheet. Entries were made throughout the sprint period, without waiting for the last day of the sprint.
The general format of our retrospective ceremony is something like this:
This was not an easy task to get everyone to do. The team was not used to completing this type of activity, so making them understand the benefits of this new approach was vital to its success. The team's reaction was understandable — they had been used to speaking at the end of the retrospective session. In this traditional scenario, team members can either speak or skip their turn if the ScrumMaster does not ask them explicitly to express their thoughts.
Not speaking and being less aware of your surroundings are two different things. One can have a lot of information and also be receptive but may not feel confident or comfortable speaking in front of others. Others can express themselves and speak throughout the ceremony in various ways. By following the practice in which the ScrumMaster asks each team member to speak, everyone gets an equal chance to talk about his or her unique sprint experience.
However, overall we found this to be successful. As soon as the sprint started, team members began making keen observations. They were immediately filling in the details in the online sheet, without waiting for the scheduled retrospective session. This practice gained us two benefits. First, team members could now access an up-to-date retrospective sheet anytime and enter supporting details. Second, team members could take lessons from the experiences of others and implement them for self or team improvement in real time.
This practice gave our retrospective sessions a major boost, as everyone now spent quality time in discussions and did not overthink or worry about what went wrong with the sprint. If you use the format that our team followed, it is essential that you include the team member name on the online form. During the ceremony, each team member enters information and speaks about his or her area in greater detail. In our case, others learned from this discussion and applied the knowledge gained to their area, wherever applicable.
This is a specific case of a sprint retrospective ceremony, but there are definitely other innovative ways to make the ceremony effective.
I would be delighted to hear your thoughts. Please share. Thank you.