As we continue embracing Agile in the software team, we’ve also started carrying the behaviors and cultural changes to other teams. To be fair, we have a few teams that have adopted some of the tools and techniques, but we’re in the process of figuring out how to do it more formally and more aggressively.
So my first step has been to simply introduce others within the company to the ideas. Last week, I invited two team members to simply observe a retrospective. (And yes, I asked the software team in advance if it was OK to have observers.*)
You’ll have to imagine this: I’m sitting in the back of the software development team’s workspace with the two “outsiders.” The team – about 20 people – begins the process of describing what went well, what needed improvement, and what they should do differently in the future.
The team had no agenda except for those three items.
The meeting lasted an hour.
The team followed the methodology precisely, with Kevin (their ScrumMaster), occasionally refocusing them if they got too far off track.
Every single person spoke.
They debated complex topics.
They called out problems.
They apologized for failures.
And they ended on time.
The observers and I retreated upstairs after the meeting and one of them said, “Wow! That was the most productive meeting I’ve ever seen!”
Yes. Yes it was.
And they happen every two to three weeks on the software team. Carrying that behavior and culture to every part of Geonetric is the next step.
* Perhaps you think it odd that the CEO has to ask permission for something like that. There are two reasons: first, retrospectives can get a little personal. They’re exposing things that, to their direct peers, might be a little easier than when ‘outsiders’ are present. Secondly, this is their meeting – not mine. When I say improvement is the software development team’s responsibility, I mean it! So if I want do something that might affect their meeting, I will ask them.