Weekly Roundup May 4th 2014

What Have I Been Reading?

Agile Retrospectives

I got the lend of Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great off Will in work. It’s been a good resource for helping me understand what I need to do in order to be a good facilitator of a retrospective as well as giving me ideas for exercises to do during the retrospective.

What Have I Been Doing?

Agile Antipatterns Whitebag

I attended an interactive whitebag in work discussing some of the issues we have experienced when applying Agile techniques like ‘Points equalling prizes’. It brought together people in lots of teams spread across the country with different experiences and perspectives and was definitely a useful experience. We’re already applying a couple of improvements to our standups and planning based on it which I think will make life easier.

Belfast JUG

I attended the first meeting of the new Belfast Java User Group. Previously my only JUG experience was the Virtual JUG so it’s great that a local branch has started up. Garth Gilmour gave a talk called “Does Java Have a Future?” taking us through the new functionality in Java 8. Having been on multiple training courses hosted by Garth I knew it was going to be a fun talk and I wasn’t disappointed. The slides can be found here. In particular check out the slides near the end where he solves a problem in Java and Scala to see how clean and easy to read the Scala syntax is.

Running a Retrospective

After working together for the guts of a year the team retrospective was starting to get a bit stale so we’ve decided to mix it up by giving different members of the team the opportunity to facilitate the retrospective. I volunteered this week and did a good bit of reading and browsing on the web to decide what to do. I’ll pull a post together soon on some of the useful resources I found on my travels. The format I went with in the end was:

  • Welcome and introduce purpose of meeting
  • Review actions from last sprint
  • Check-in using thumbs up (great sprint), thumbs down (hard sprint) or flat palm (so-so sprint) and a quick sentence why. This got everyone to speak and actually raised some interesting issues from last sprint
  • Data gathering using Mad, Sad, Glad and Scared. The first three are around events in the last sprint which made people feel that way and the last one scared is concerns for the future sprint. I included the option to thank people under Glad. I really like the positive vibe this brings. We grouped the results and voted for which to discuss further.
  • We then brainstormed and came up with actions to prevent repetition of one of negative events last sprint. This was actually really positive because it related to a previous phase of the project being in UAT and we could see how actions we’d already taken would prevent the same issues when the current phase goes to UAT. The second thing we focused on was a concern for the next sprint, putting in place actions to prevent this concern becoming a reality.
  • Finally I finished with a retro of the retro. Some of the team really can’t be bothered with the retro so I thought it would be an opportunity for them to air anything they really disliked about it and help us improve on the format for the next one.