Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tribal maintaineance or Sprint Retrospectives : just another tribal ceremony?

Do you think that your sprint retrospective transitions the team to their cause ? or is it just another tribal ceremony?

The authors of Tribal Leadership talk about people forming tribes, which range from stages 1 to stage 5 (most evolved at stage 5). The tribal leaders in Stage 4/5 perform regular "tribal maintaineance". But do you know that this tribal maintaineance ritual matches the sprint retrospectives feedback loop (which agile teams perform after every sprint)?

Stage 4/5 tribal leaders, who regularly perform these "tribal maintaineance" or "oil changes" (as the authors speak), ask these BIG questions -
1. what's working well ?
2. what's not working ?
3. what can we do to make the things that aren't working, work ?

This indeed sounds familiar to the Agile Sprint Retrospective questions -
1. What worked well last Sprint that we should continue doing?
2. What didn’t work well last Sprint that we should stop doing?
3. What should we start doing?

But what's the difference in these stage 4/5 tribes and agile sprint retrospectives ? Do agile sprint retrospectives miss anything?

I think that the major difference in these tribes vs the sprint team answering these similar questions, is that the tribe is indirectly answering more key questions - " what's our cause ?" and "what are we proud of ?".

This tribal maintaineance activity provides the tribe a deeper understanding of their shared values. Once a tribe understands these shared values, the tribe members are united and therefore transition to a "we are great" tribe !! (stage 4), from a "I am great" (stage 3) !!

Thus this stage 4 melts all individual boundaries and the tribe members work collectively towards their noble cause. Surely Avatar's on Pandora were a united tribe with a noble and heroic cause !!

But what about your sprint teams ? do they see their cause from a sprint retrospective or is it just another tribal ceremony?