Inspect and Adapt: Isn’t it the Key?
by Jayaprakash Puttaswamy
Any complex work requires a lot of inspect and adapt actions throughout. This is especially true when we are working on a complex project with multiple people involved, various changing requirements, and other real-world constraints.
When it comes to the Agile way of working (using any of the Agile practices like Scrum, XP, etc.), the team's ability to inspect and adapt has a major impact on a project’s success or failure. In fact, some surveys show that ineffective use of retrospective is the number one reason Agile adoptions fail.
If I meditate deeply and reflect on my own experiments with Agile in both software and non-software projects, I see that having constant “inspect and adapt” sessions with my teams was the driving force that kept us going.
Different projects require different ways and frequency of retrospection. Here are a few of them I've used:
- Retrospective for Scrum teams, every sprint for new product development
- Introspection at the strategy level when working on a long-term initiative
- Cross-team retrospectives at the release level for product development in a scaled environment
- Daily or alternate day inspect and adapt sessions for short engagements (1 to 2 weeks)
- Kaizen with WIP limits and waste management for maintenance projects
It is also important to keep these aspects of retrospectives in mind:
- Retrospective sessions need to have a good mix of healthy debates and fun, otherwise it becomes mundane and boring after a few sessions.
- Different retrospective techniques should be tried to keep the participation level high.
- One should create a congenial environment to let people share the truth or real feelings in retrospective sessions.
- Retrospective sessions should always end with sensible and feasible action items which can be implemented in a couple of iterations.
Irrespective of the nature or duration of a project, constant introspection about goals, priorities, and execution strategies is crucial for risk mitigation and dealing with changes using the Agile approach. In fact, “inspect and adapt” is the key practice out of all the Agile practices from a sustenance point of view. Isn’t it?