Why sprint success is important
 

In Agile environment, some of the committed stories may not be completed at the end of the iteration. For example, in Scrum, the stories roll to the next sprint. There could be various reasons why some of the stories could not be achieved. Reasons include (not limited to) blockers, inefficiency, improper sync between team members, missing clarity, support from other teams, priority etc. A casual look on this can make someone think this is normal. But sprint success has a huge impact on the long term success of the team and the product.

Fig: Success

Following are the some of the reasons why sprint success is important.

  • Morale : The team members self esteem actually gets higher when they achieve their goal. This breads confidence and help them to get better a their game, which can lead to more success.

  • Habit: Success breads happiness and more success. At the same time, failure breads failure. Also success/failure on one aspect of life can cause ripple effect on the rest of the life. We should be focused on success on every aspect of life so that it can bread in to itself.

Fig: Habit Loop

  • Fine reputation: More than any thing else, team will be very proud when they are able to successfully achieve the sprint goals consistently. Their reputation and respect around the company can actually go up and they will have to live up to that standard.

  • High standards: Team starts to set higher standard for themselves when they have high reputation. This helps them to get better at questioning, coding, testing, deploying and showcasing etc and improves their living standards in a holistic way.

  • Team bonding: When the team have a standard to live up to, they come together and get the things done, keeping aside the petty things. The goal becomes  bigger than individuals and  deliver thing as a team. This leads to higher team bonding and it reinforces their standards, reputation, habit and morale.

These are some of the main reasons why sprint success is important. When we focus on success, more positive things happen to the team and to the product that they work on.

Sad Mad and Glad Retrospective
 


One of the powerful retrospective getting very popular lately is Sad/Mad and Glad. Many organizations don’t even conduct it as they are afraid to talk about employee challenges or too busy to do other things that they don’t have time to focus on employee morale. There are obviously pros and cons but making it work truly helps you to achieve more. In my personal opinion, the number of positives what you have with this retrospective is far higher than challenges hence it’s worth doing it.

Prerequisites :-

  • Your team and your presence
  • Sticky notes (Three colors)
  • Enough Pens
  • Open minded motivated teams

In this retrospective, you ask your team to get into a room.  Every colored sticky note represents Sad/Mad or Glad respectively.  You can take the printout of below and paste that in the room where you are going to conduct this meeting. This would provide clarity on the go!

You can take the printout of below and paste that in the room where you are going to conduct this meeting. This would provide clarity on the go!

You can start your meeting with a positive note. Ask individuals to participate freely and openly. Once the stage is all set, you can ask every individual to write up the areas what they are happy about it (Glad), don’t like it (Sad) or frustrated with it (Mad) on different color sticky notes. I always recommend individual team members to write their names on each sticky note else there are good chances that it would become a political battle.

I have seen instances where team members just write some crap either because they did not have good appraisal last time or not in line with others due to personal issues. If you find an item which has something written in sad or mad while an individual who wrote it is not willing to even talk about it then you can very much assume either that’s fake or written with the wrong intention. There are some people very shy and not willing to open at all. They should go to their manager or who is driving sad mad/glad to discuss the area of concern.  Just to avoid the frustration as manager, anything written as an area of concern and individual is not willing to open up personally or with the team, you can safely scrap it.

Once everyone is done with writing, spend an hour or so reading every item and discuss that with the team. Remember the goal is to share as much as information about the issue and gaining more details around the problem while not fixing the problem there itself. This would be good input to take it forward as employee happiness and moral is very critical to agile success.

Things to remember while doing Sad/Mad & Glad:-

  • You should be reading every item loud or make it visible to every individual unless there is a derogatory remark which is not acceptable.
  • Team to think of the success of team and project rather considering this as revenge material.
  • Everyone must open up. If you don’t have guts to talk about your challenge then don’t even write it. You are just creating a FUSS which is either not true or you don’t know what is this the right forum to talk about it.
  • Refrain from making comments about an individual if you don’t have supporting material. The world is not perfect. The goal is to identify the improve system over making it worse
  • BE MATURE
  • Should not be anonymous.
  • Don’t abuse it. It is conducted to the best interest of an individual and improves as a team. It should never be used as a tool to fulfill your political battle.
  • Not every problem can be fixed eventually. Somebody writes that I don’t feel like working doesn’t mean you would allow him to sleep in the office.
  • Don’t try to fix the problems during this retrospective.
  • Constantly read the issues/concerns raised and strive to fix as much as you can.  Provide updates to the team around the issues you committed you would work on.

The benefits I see with this retrospective are:-

  • Gives lots of motivation to the team when going over “Glad” items.
  • Give an opportunity to an employee to express their challenges.
  • Bring in open culture
  • Reduce attrition as you really know challenges and definitely a lot of which you can work on.
  • It gives 360 views in terms of how the teams are progressing.
  • One of the biggest “Glad” item I would say is that your organization is conducting it.

The challenges I see are:-

  • It may become a political battle if your team is not mature and willing to go for an anonymous survey.
  • Excessive sad mad and glad would unearth issues which are not really problems while making other team members think it’s a major problem.
  • Sometimes very happy team morale goes down as well as when you have an opportunity to think about negatives, you feel like writing it and further “law of attraction” does its job.
  • What I was written must be addressed and fixed “Myth”. You may not like the tile color in the washroom but that cannot be really changed.