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Changing the Future Without Grays Sports Almanac

by Mark Metze

In the 1989 highly successful sequel, Back to the Future 2, Marty McFly returns from the future after saving his son only to discover life in his hometown has become very different. His archenemy, Biff, has stolen a copy of Grays Sports Almanac from the future and has become enormously wealthy by knowing the outcome of sporting events and betting on them. This leads to the seedy and sleazy, yet profitable Biff Tannen’s Pleasure Paradise Casino and Hotel built at the center of Marty’s hometown. In the end, Marty and Doc travel back in time again and are able to reverse all of the upheaval caused by Biff.

Imagine if we were able to gain invaluable insight to make us ultra-successful like Biff (but for noble purposes, of course)? I’m not talking about driving a plutonium-powered DeLorean back in time to find a sports almanac. What I am talking about is taking continual, deliberate steps to steadily improve which undoubtedly will lead to success and cause us to exclaim, “Great Scott!”. For this, Softdocs utilizes a technique called a retrospective.

What is a Retrospective?

The twelfth principle of the Agile Manifesto accurately describes retrospectives by stating: “At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.” Carefully crafted planning is required to build this effectiveness. Retrospectives have allowed Softdocs to identify and implement changes resulting in lasting improvements in communication, processes, and ultimately in the software we deliver.

Series Outline

Ester Derby and Diana Larsen have written the book Agile Retrospectives – Making Good Teams Great which I highly recommend reading if you want to start retrospectives or improve your use of them. This will be five part series describing the components of a successful retrospective as outlined in this book:

  1. Set the Stage
  2. Gather Data
  3. Generate Insights
  4. Decide What to Do
  5. Conclusion

In each upcoming article within this series, I will share experiences from the retrospectives held at Softdocs and provide information that can be used for holding your own team retro.

So fire up 1.21 jigawatts into the flux capacitor, accelerate to 88 miles per hour and buckle up for the next part of the series where I will explain the importance of setting the stage for your retrospective and ensuring that trust is built so that everyone freely contributes. Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.