Improving Agile Teams – The Power of Honest Conversations

Nate AdamsAgile0 Comments

“We’ve stopped doing Retrospectives. They’re boring and nothing ever came out of them anyway.”

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard someone say something like this, I’d have a pretty nice little pile of nickels. I couldn’t retire yet, but I could definitely get popcorn at the movies.

One of the simplest, tangible benefits of Agile is the opportunity for teams to continuously improve by using Retrospectives to gather feedback about how they’re doing work and taking actionable steps based on that feedback to grow. Notice that I said simple, not easy, and making Retrospectives provide value takes work from the entire team along with a decent level of discipline. However, when a team is willing to put the work in, the payback is incredible.

Is it possible for a team to avoid the pitfalls of stale and unengaging Retrospectives? You can certainly stack the deck in your favor by ensuring that the facilitator enables the team to have honest and candid conversations without allowing team members to feel personally attacked. Easy, right? Actually, there are lots of techniques to help make exactly this happen.  One of the most common ways to encourage important conversations while protecting individuals is to use games or activities to drive the discussion. This can help insulate people who aren’t quite as comfortable sharing their feelings in a group setting and keeps discussion focused on problems instead of on people. This can go a long way toward growing trust and getting to the truth while creating  actionable ideas that can break through even the toughest roadblocks on the road to a high-performing team.

The really good news is that these techniques aren’t a mystery and can be learned. If you’d like to learn more, join Certified Scrum Trainer Jason Tanner and NewBoCo at our training CSM with Innovation Games being held in November.

The Agile / Scrum team at NewBoCo is partnering with Applied Frameworks to bring two Certified Scrum Trainings to Iowa:

Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) + Innovation Games®

A Certified ScrumMaster® helps project teams properly use Scrum, increasing the likelihood of the project’s overall success. CSMs understand Scrum values, practices, and applications and provide a level of knowledge and expertise above and beyond that of typical project managers. CSMs act as “servant leaders,” helping the rest of the Scrum team work together and learn the Scrum framework. CSMs also protect the team from both internal and external distractions. Learn more. Register here.

Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) + Innovation Games®

Certified Scrum Product Owner® professionals have been taught the Scrum terminology, practices, and principles that enable them to fulfill the role of Product Owner on a Scrum team. CSPOs are typically the individuals who are closest to the “business side” of the project. They are charged by the organization to “get the product out” and are expected to do the best possible job of satisfying all the stakeholders. CSPOs maintain the product backlog and ensure that everyone knows the priorities. Learn more. Register here.


Also published on Medium.

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