Focus on Core Agile Principles, Not Little Stuff

Here’s a suggestion.

One of the best practices for Agile development teams is to conduct regular retrospectives. The goal is continuous improvement by drawing attention to team activities that could be done better.

What if you did the opposite? Focus on the core strengths of Agile development instead. Here is an excerpt from the “What is Scrum” page on the Scrum Alliance website…

“We value

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Completed functionality over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, the items on the left matter more.”

Try focusing on these four points in your next retrospective. Ask yourself and your team the following questions:

  • How well does the team communicate internally? Do they share information? Do they help one another? If teamwork is lacking, what’s wrong? How can the team work better together?
  • Does the team deliver working software during each sprint? If not, what’s distracting them? If they are not writing software, what are they spending time on?
  • Is the customer or end user actively engaged in the development effort? Is there collaboration among the technical and business teams? If not, what can you do to improve it?
  • Does the team readily accept changes (not within a sprint, perhaps, but between sprints)? If, not what’s stopping them?

To get the full benefits of agile and Scrum development, you need to take full advantage of their core strengths. Too many teams spend too much time trying to improve small details like updating the Scrum board. Yet, if you can’t master the core principles, the little stuff won’t make any difference.

It’s generally a good idea to focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Employ that principle and try focusing on agile development’s strengths. You can always work on the little stuff later.

Updated: April 6, 2011 — 10:08 pm