Power of Retrospectives at VIA-1

On Saturday I presented at the 14th annual Vietnamese Interacting as One (VIA-1) Conference on “the power of retrospectives.” As an alumnus of the organization that hosts the event, UVSA Midwest, I was excited to come back and support these young Vietnamese Americans. I’ve personally seen the value of retrospectives and how critical they are to high performing teams. My hope is teams will adopt the practice of doing retrospectives frequently and consistently throughout a project, and invest the time/resources in making them fun and engaging. I’ve posted the slides at the end of this entry.

I always like to set-up at my workshop about an hour before it’s set to start.

I split attendees into smaller teams to run their own retrospectives. The prompt was to think about their experiences at conference thus far.

The teams came up with really interesting action items; many of which were within their own control. For example one team thought their inability to show up to sessions on time was limiting their conference experience. They came up with several concrete actions which would allow them to maximize the rest of conference.

The teams used dot voting to help prioritize their thoughts and ideas.

The slides presented at the conference.

Using Stretch Goals in Your Sprints

Some teams use something called stretch goals or stretch stories to highlight product backlog items they will accomplish if they finish their sprint commitments early. In my experience, stretch goals are often used as a way to satisfy stakeholders without fully committing to the work. In some ways, it’s more tangible to call it out as a “stretch goal” than saying we didn’t include it in sprint A, but it’s the highest priority item in the product backlog.

I do think it should be up to the team whether they use stretch goals, but I would caution against using it as a tool to keep stakeholders at bay. We want to be realistic of what we can deliver and the more honest we can be with ourselves and our stakeholders, the better off we’ll be.

Should Scrum Teams Include a Stretch Goal In Their Sprints? | Mountain Goat Software

Image by Mountain Goat Software

Scrum Events in DC

I received an email today from the Washington D.C. Scrum User Group and wanted to pass it on:

Hey DCSUGer’s,

We hope that you stayed safe during #thewinterawakens storm of 2016. Hopefully you had a little fun as well.

We wanted to take a little time to make you aware of upcoming events that may interest you or your colleagues. Please feel free to forward this to anyone you see fit. The links below will provide more details and registration options.


Lean Change Agent Workshop (FEB 1-2) – While Lean Change is particularly useful in a fast-paced agile environment, all Change agents, Agile coaches, Change leaders, Managers and anyone who is interested to make a difference in their organization will benefit from learning about this new feedback-driven approach.

Coaching Agile Teams Workshop (FEB 29 – MAR 2 @ Arlington Tech eXchange (ATX)) – Only 4 spots left! Early bird rate ends on 1/30. Don’t miss out on this transformative workshop.

The Agile Facilitator (APR 7-8 @ Arlington Tech eXchange (ATX)) – A little further down the road but will be here before you know it, The Agile Facilitator (TAF) is the complimentary workshop to Coaching Agile Teams that will help take your facilitator skills to the next level!

Certified LeSS Practitioner: Principles To Practices (APR 12 – 14 @ Arlington Tech eXchange (ATX)) – Want to scale your Agility? LeSS may be just what you need. Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS) is a framework for scaling agile development to multiple teams. LeSS builds on top of the Scrum principles such as empiricism, cross-functional, self-managing teams and provides a framework for applying that at scale. It provides simple structural rules and guidelines on how to adopt Scrum in large product development.

Meetups on the Horizon:

That is a ton of stuff. Hope to see many of you at these and many more in 2016.

Don’t stop continuously improving.


Your DCSUG Organizers