The Agile Tribe

Spin your Wheels or Drive on Purpose?

on November 23, 2010

Author: Jonathan Coleman

The Retrospective Itself

Theme: Spin your Wheels or Drive on Purpose?

I make no apology for this – I borrowed heavily from the YouTube Footage of Ken Block, the Rally Car Driver (especially this one)

9:00am – 9:05am Welcome and “Focussing question”

I welcomed the team to the retrospective – and thanked them for putting aside the time. I then asked the following question:

“How do we spend less time spinning our wheels, around issues and more time driving with purpose?”

9:05am – 9:10am Ken Block’s Gymkhana 3 Video on the big screen.

Lots of smoke, spinning wheels, and fancy footwork.

9:10am – 9:20am Quick walk through of the last 15 Iterations.

A quick show of hands of who was here for more than 1 iteration. More than 5, more than 10, back from the beginning!

(I had prepared an iteration timeline with post it notes (stickies) on some of the challenges we had encountered during the iterations. This required pre-work to remember it all).

The team was encouraged (and did) shout out and participate in what we overcame as we walked through the iterations. At the end of this we saw that we had overcome some pretty major obstacles. We were feeling pretty confident that no matter what came our way in the next release – we could tackle it and overcome it!

9:20am – 9:50am Three Laps of the room around the Issues.

I had organised several “stations” around the room with Butcher’s Paper, Sticky notes and whiteboard markers.

During the Iteration Walkthrough, we called out some of the major themes of what we had overcome – but spent our time Spinning Our Wheels vs Driving with Purpose. I then encouraged the team to gather around the hot topics they felt passionate about – and self organise into a group. Shortly after this chaotic time – we began our first “Lap” (i.e. 10 minutes brainstorming on the topic).

After the groups brainstormed ideas to help us overcome similar issues in Release 2 – or how to overcome the still remaining issues – the teams had to stop and select two spokespeople to stay behind – and then move on to the next topic! They had a very short time to get through this. This was also somewhat chaotic and very fun.

The two people left behind quickly introduced the topic to the arriving group – and then left to rejoin their departed group on the next topic.

After 3 Laps – the team had to stop and re-gather at the main wall.

Again they elected two spokespeople who presented the issues back to the group and most importantly – What they were going to do about them!

After this Retrospective – we wrapped up with a short summary, and I ended it by thanking them for attending the session, being honest and openly sharing their thoughts and actively participating. We then had a morning tea to celebrate the change in phase for the project, and everyone applauded the group and the retrospective.


2 responses to “Spin your Wheels or Drive on Purpose?

  1. kasper says:

    Wouldn’t fast feedback be better? Why wait 15 iterations? Why not do it early and often, so the team can improve as you go?

  2. Hi Kasper, thanks for the question.

    We do have a retrospective every iteration!
    This particular one was after 15 iterations we had a major release of our software, and we were looking back on what we’d learned.
    So the focus was different and the audience was bigger.

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