Last month, Cory Foy sent me an email about a project retrospective that gave his team new insights and direction. He used the subject line, “They got it!” You can find the story of Cory’s recent retrospective experience, along with the thread of additional comments, on the XP list digest archive.

Here’s Cory’s story.

“Yesterday I started my new role as the development manager of a team that was just bought out by a new company. They released the latest version of their software (an 18 month effort) on Thursday - a couple of weeks late, after about 2 1/2 months of working extra, weekends, and lots of heroic efforts, plus, of course, being bought out.

“This afternoon I moderated a project retrospective for almost the entire team - we had support, QA, Development, Business Analysts and Management present. I used several exercises out of Esther and Diana's Agile Retrospectives book - Check-In, Focus On/Focus Off, Timeline, Color Code Dots, Patterns and Shifts, Learning Matrix, and Start/Stop/Keep.

“Without any leading towards agile from me, the team analyzed the information, looked at insights, and decided on the following actions:

  • Find better ways to estimate
  • Find ways to involve the whole team earlier
  • Find ways to introduce a more iterative development process
  • Modify our methodology to better define "done"
  • Give frequent demos (ideally at the end of the iterations)

“It was really nice to watch a team take the time to look at what they've done, spend time working as a team to evaluate it, and deciding as a team that the only way they are going to get better is by finding ways to become more agile in their day to day workings.”

Cory went on to tell me, “The book was a great guide - I pulled it all off using a whiteboard, some index cards, and some highlighters, since I hadn't had a chance yet to gather the other materials. Thanks a ton for the great resource!”

Good work, Cory! I appreciate you for the gift of this inspiring story.