How to Succeed at Failing

Agile retrospectives are done with the full intent of not only reflecting what was accomplished in an iteration, but also what can be improved. With a Lean thinking underbody to Agile, it’s important that we learn from our failures and focus on continuous improvement. What we often do is “fail at failing”. This results from not holding the team accountable to improvements, and ignoring the “what we can do better” swim lanes in our retrospectives. It’s easy to talk about what went well, but it’s often uncomfortable to admit mistakes and failures. Failure is a valuable learning tool, but is overshadowed by success, and stunts our ability to learn from what went wrong.

This is an expansion of my “Concepts of Ownership” talk I did at the “Testing Circle” at the recent Fall 2017 conference. The focus of that talk was that the team needs to make sure and own the problem. It should not be the onus of one person, and it’s takes all the members of the delivery team to ensure that the failures are corrected and addressed.

Session Takeaways:

  1. The team must hold everyone accountable.
  2. Improvements are not the job of the scrum master, product owner, etc. It’s for everyone.
  3. From a testing perspective, a retrospective is in some ways “testing” the team’s sprint. Don’t be afraid to push your colleagues out of their comfort zone and address problems directly.
  4. Retrospectives are meaningless if they are not used as ways to document inefficiencies, weaknesses, etc. Don’t use them just to celebrate the successes.

Location: North 1 Date: October 25, 2018 Time: 2:15 pm - 3:15 pm Travis Gillison