9 points that make follow-through more likely
tl;dr Small, concrete, team has control over it, clear first step, responsible person, follow-up date, success criteria; there are only a few AIs, visualize
Retrospectives are only meaningful if they result in change. Sometimes this change is sparked just by everyone reaching a better understanding of everyone else’s perspective. More often we reach change through experiments, i. e. by trying something new for a set period of time. Obviously, you would like your experiments to improve things, but they won’t always. You have to try out many things to find the ones that are an improvement and discard the rest.
Experiments come in two flavors:
- Action Items (AIs) – concrete todos; usually one-time-tasks Examples: “Invite the devops team to our refinement meeting”
- Rule changes – how the team handles their interactions, routines, rituals or events; usually on-going and repeating
- “everybody will answer these 3 questions in the daily standup”,
- “we will groom upcoming stories every Wed 3pm”,
- “we will prepare the product demo the day before the review”
I’m sloppy and use “action items” to mean both types – yes, also in this post. My recommendations apply to both types.
Okay, so we’re in a retrospective and try to come up with good experiments to try out. But what is a “good” action item?
For me, a good action item is something that has a high chance of actually being implemented by the team. You don’t get brownie points for coming up with ten AIs. You get points for those two AIs that you actually carry out and observe the results of.
Great. And what exactly increases the chances of follow-through for an AI? Glad you’re asking!
Aim for small experiments. Go for the smallest change that could possibly make a difference. Small changes are easier to agree on. They have a higher chance of actually being implemented, because they are not such a big effort. If an experiment works: Great! If it doesn’t you haven’t invested much and can try something else. Rinse and repeat for continuous improvement.Continue reading “What’s a good action item?”