Deal every day with problems is tiresome, sometimes frustrating (click here to have a taste of it!), but for me the real problems start when I don’t have any problem.
The sprint retrospective is a perfect time and place to deal with problems, but what if the sprint went well and no one has to complain?
Or what if more sprints went well in a row?
Well, when a new team starts there are a lot of problems, but after few months it is not so strange to have a period where everything goes in the right way: your software is growing well, your Stakeholder are enough satisfied and the team found the right rhythm.
If you have this kind of period there’s a chance that your retrospective become useless, boring and, like it happened to me, you begin to ask to yourself: and now?
Work with problems can be a big deal, but the continuous improvement is THE big deal.
The first time it happened to me I felt confused, I was so used to deal with problems that I forgot that the most important part of my job had to be the continuous improvement and not a “simple” removing of impediments.
At that time I had my Coach very present and I asked him some good advice.
He suggested to change my point of view.
He suggested to ask the team which kind of team they wanted to be.
So we planned a different retrospective, where we didn’t talk about the past, but about the future.
The question was simple: you are in the best team in the world, can you describe its virtue, its strength points?
Every member of the team described the qualities that his own dream team should have.
The qualities about everything: soft skills, technical skills, etc etc.
They filled a wall with notes and then we observed, for the first time, the mountain from the top to the bottom.
The next questions were: Ok, there is the top of the mountain, where are we now? What do we need to reach that top?
To manage this part I used a Starfish.
At the end of the session we had a lot of ideas on how to have a better team able to deliver better software.
Today that Starfish is evolving as the wall of the “dream team”.
We prioritize the tasks, time by time, to focus and achieve few improvements.
Now we are working on:
more frequent commit of the code
less gold plating
start working with an UXD expert WITHIN the team
Our mountain changes its shape very often and sometimes we have to rest before to climb it again or stop for a blizzard passing by, but the important thing is not to forget to try to reach the top…and not to forget to be careful.