Trailblazing is to Inspect & Adapt

We have a bit of a theme going on here: Agile. I must admit that may be my fault!

Being a Trailblazer is being a person who is the first to do something; an innovator. And to be an innovator in our ever-changing environment you need to ‘inspect & adapt’.

Especially now, as things change more rapidly we need to ‘tune & adjust’ more quickly and deal with greater uncertainty. This is because only learning organisations, teams and individuals are the ones that will stay competitive, relevant and be able to keep up with the future.

I bring this up as it worries me to see in the ecosystem something that we could call Zombie Agile, going through the motions without the soul. Zombie Agile is a serious problem that needs to be solved. Agile comes with a lot of baggage, it’s a word that for the past 20 years has been used and unfortunately abused.

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One of the twelve principles of agile is “At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly.” If you ask me, although all principles are very important, this one is the most crucial and, unfortunately, the one the gets dropped the most.

To support this principle, Scrum (the Agile framework) has a ceremony to pause and do this fine-tuning. This catch up is often called a Retrospective, which at the end of every cycle/sprint, the team comes together look back and discover the following:

  • What did we set ourselves out to do?
  • What actually happened?
  • Why?
  • What are we going to do next time?

As you can imagine, a retrospective without soul can be very draining! One of the antidotes is to bring different perspectives to enable a breeze of fresh air and new ideas for and by the team to become better on what and how they do. Here are some ideas;

1) Round Robin it! When you come together as a team for the retrospective, experiment in rotating the facilitator of this session. To select the next ‘chosen one’ at the end of every retrospective who ever is facilitating that time around can ask a question or a guess like the next football score may win the prize to be the facilitator, or just use a simple randomiser to pick who will look after the session next time around

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2) Proud Thank Learn. Use this framework if you had a particularly tough cycle when the mood may be a little low.

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Write on a visual (flipchart/google drawing) and collaborative tool for your team, 3 columns:

The idea is for the team to bring to discussion things that are thankful for, proud of and have learnt.

3) 5 Columns. For when you want to get actionable ideas to try out as a team, similarly to the above, creating the following columns: Start, More, Continue, Less, Stop.

Then get the team to ping their ideas on things as a team; you should start doing, do less of, continue doing as these are good and worth keeping, things to do less of and things to stop doing as these are not helping.

There is so much more you can try to get the most of everybody’s time, focus and energy.

Here’s a couple more tips:

  • Think about how to give the opportunity to all team members to chip in and share their thoughts.
  • Have a system to vote on actions that the team wants to do and has the energy to tackle/try out
  • From these sessions, many many ideas will come up, but focus the efforts and dont try to tackle all at once. Ring-fence the actions / things to try to only few, which few is for the team to choose.
  • Revisit every now and then how is the team as a whole doing, are you getting closer to where you want to be?

On this last one and confessing my #secretnotsecret love for games… you may want to check out my recent invention, yes a card game for teams to self-assess, with added fun! 🙂

I hope all these thoughts and tips are useful and I look forward to hearing how are you and your team are trying some out!

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