Mark Levison explains how retrospectives provides continuous improvements—the core of Agile dynamics.
Continuous Improvement and Short Feedback loops (think: Test Driven Development; Sprint Demo/Review; …) are at the core of any Agile process. Without a structured improvement process it can be difficult for teams to improve and without improvement we stagnate. For methods like Scrum, XP and et al., Retrospectives are that tool.
What is a Retrospective? It is a moment for the team to stop, breathe and take a break from the day to day grind. It’s a chance to step back and reflect on the past iteration. To find things that worked well, things that need improvement and what the team has the energy to improve.
How do Retrospectives differ from Post-mortems (see CIO Update and PragmaticSW)?
- Post-mortems occur after the project is done (or even dead), when it’s too late to improve that project.
- Post-mortems are long feedback loops, once per project might mean every 6-18 months.
- Post-mortems often generate nice reports that are placed on a shelf and ignored (also called write only documentation).
- Post-mortems sometimes turn into blame and shame events.