2017 Retrospective and Review

Contemplation

Matthew Kercheval

12/19/2017

"At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly."

- Principles behind the Agile Manifesto

Agile is what you make it. It is interesting to see how culture influences the agile process. As every team's culture is different, so are the implementations of the agile process. Kanban is better for some teams, others it is Scrum, and some just wrap Agile terminology around broken waterfall processes. The latter tends to fail, and when the "Wibbly-wobbly, agile waterfall-y" does not deliver on the promises of Agile, the blame is more-often-than-not put at the feet of Agile. We have seen Agile adoption fail, and when it does, it is usually due to a misalignment of a team's core cultural values with those values expressed in the Agile Manifesto. One clear sign of misalignment is the lack of Reviews, Demos, and Retrospectives.

These ceremonies are not a ceremony for ceremony’s sake. These are important and essential parts of any team’s success. I am not a fan of meetings, but if a team does not know where it has come from how can it know where it is going? Omitting a retro or reviews from your process does not save time. More likely, neglecting reviews and a retro delays delivery of excellent software. Teams end up repeating behaviors that are not beneficial to their overall success and not replicating ones that are. Retrospectives and reviews are happening anyway, just informally at the water cooler, at lunch over fish tacos in the west, and over BBQ in Texas. This informal version of reviews poses a problem: as they do not involve all members of the team, it makes it difficult for the entire team to become more efficient. Reviews are essential, just ask Jesse James and the Steelers. It answers the question, “are we getting things right and are we better than last time?” These are important questions for any team and are essential to building a vibrant culture where success and excellence is the norm.

 If your organization is agile and is skipping the retrospective, review, or demo, consider advocating for their inclusion in your process. If your team is waterfall, consider advocating for their inclusion in your process. It is going to be awkward at first, but one cannot strengthen their weaknesses if they are not identified. More pressing, a team cannot celebrate or repeat their success if they do not know what we did well.

The idea of a retrospective and review is also good for the individual. 2017 is drawing down to a close, and it is a good time reflector your accomplishments for the year. Make a countdown list of 2017, your most significant accomplishments, and most prominent opportunities for growth. The list may help to set a proper context as you set goals for next year. It will also help all of us rest a little easier knowing there will be at least one top for 2017 without "Despacito" listed at the top (If I hear that song one more time, so help me!).

In all seriousness, Thank You. From all of us, at Afterman. For allowing us to part of your team and your success, thank you. 2017 has been incredible, and we are looking forward great thing in 2018.

To every single Afterman: whether you check-in to TFS, commit to Git, or ensure that the only thing we have to worry about is committing to Git or checking-in to TFS. Thank You. Without every one of you 2017 wouldn't be as awesome as it has been, nor would 2018 look as bright. Enjoy your families and celebrations, and we can only imagine the things we are going build next year.