17 October 2014

The Last Retrospective

Almost 12 months ago, I wrote a post entitled Installing Scrum, The Hard Way. That post was about the experience of working with a team of people who had accepted the challenge to use an Agile approach to solving a problem of gargantuan proportions, under the most challenging of circumstances. We are now all a year older, many years wiser and have sprinted together 34 times. It is also time for me to say farewell and move on to other opportunities, but before I do there are a few things I would like to put on the record in the form of a thank you note to the team.  

Dear team,
Even a year ago, our daily stand ups were still pretty mechanical affairs, our retros were full of uncomfortable silences and presenting our work at review was fraught with anxiety in case something broke. Now we gather each morning to plan the day, we discuss our progress and challenges in full view of the company. Our retros are noisy, robust and result in actionable and actioned outcomes and we present our reviews with confidence; we know nothing will break. Twelve months ago, estimating and planning the sprint was still a 2 day exercise involving spreadsheets and allocating work, now we plan together during the sprint and no one is allocated their work. No one has needed to work back to close a sprint in months and the need to count the hours we will spend is rapidly fading.  We’re in production, delivering shippable product every two weeks and responding to real client feedback in double quick time. 

This has happened because you have been willing to try to work together in completely new way and to keep trying, no matter what.  You have not stepped, but leapt outside your comfort zone multitudes of times, you never gave up, even when things went horribly wrong.

Whilst I am sure there are some who could point to our practices and say we’re doing it wrong, that's not Agile, but if any part of Agile is about how people think and work and collaborate to achieve a common goal, I would argue that we’ve done it very very right. The team, the product and the company are unrecognizable when compared to the way things were before.

Thank you for letting me be part of your amazing story, it has been an honour and a privilege. I have learned so much and have a completely changed view of what is possible. I won’t wish you luck, because it’s not about luck; it’s about effort, commitment and a shared desire to deliver a quality product that has value.    

I wish you well.

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