Saturday, June 17, 2006

Dou Da - The art of the retrospective

The term retrospective came about with one of the early forms of Agile process. The Agile-meister, who had only achieved mere "kasa" status (that of an umbrella) kept calling all bad things in the team "gay" and all good things "wicked". It was decided that the gay/wicked rating was purely subjective and needed to be imposed on the team in a way which made them all believe it was their idea. The team sat down on their beanbags (two to a bean bag, in the primitive and now abandoned pair-sitting initiave) to have a "gay/wicked" meeting. They put a Pet Shop Boys album on the stereo and started trying to talk over it.

As the intro for "I want a dog" played, the team considered their stance. Some things were bad, some things were good. The chance to go back to the old ways which had their shortcomings but seemed to work, wasn't offered. The only thing they could do was to agree what they liked and disliked and, with an inspired bit of misdirection, agree to do more of the good things and fewer of the bad things. This seemed so obvious that nobody realised that it was actually an opportunity for the Agile coach to set policy by simply writing his suggestions in green in the right box.

The meeting worked. Nobody argued. The music seemed to help, though it was a bit disruptive. They named the session after the album they were listening to. This was subtley renamed by the Agile coach to "Retrospective" and nobody noticed as they'd not been paying attention anyway because the meeting dragged on too long.

Dou Da Dos
  • Do encourage everyone to speak, unless you don't like them, in which case appear impatient while they're speaking
  • Do hijack the meeting to impart any pseudo-wisdom or dogma you might have to offer
  • Do speak at length until people are bored
  • Do threaten to have retrospectives more frequently if people aren't happy - they'll soon back down
  • Do delay your retrospective if the team are looking particularly unhappy about something - nobody wants a meeting which could get out of control because of feelings
  • Do send notes to management if the meeting makes your staff look like they need disciplinary action - best to look like you've provided records
  • Do rephrase all contributions in the proto-language of the Agile world
  • Don't explain the term proto-language
  • Use phrases like - there are too many quills and not enough mongeese
Dou Da Don'ts
  • Don't allow the reactionary member of your team to run the meeting
  • Don't follow up too many points from the meeting - in fact it's best to follow up none unless you were going to do them anyway
  • Don't let the scope of the meeting restrict your imagination - include things in there which you can't possibly change
  • Don't keep records for more than two weeks
  • Don't wear blue on a Wednesday - it's bad "sith"


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to be pedantic or anything, but I thought the preferred term for something good was "SICK!" ?
Note that the capitalisation and punctuation is intentional and indicative of how the word must be pronounced...

4:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sick point dude! SICK!

Now, who will pimp up my salary!?

4:51 PM  

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