The Agile Retrospective as a Process Improvement Tool Focusing on Business Value Reengineering and Cost Analysis

There is nothing new about associating the Agile Retrospective with Continuous or “Relentless” Improvement. That’s what it is for, that’s why we do it. However, often in the Agile Coaching world, we notice that Retrospective ideas that are “out of” an individual team’s control don’t get any traction. This becomes a missed opportunity for organizational Process Improvement and Business Value Reengineering. It is also a missed opportunity to analyze potential cost savings that could result from addressing the larger organizational impediments that the Agile teams are raising.

Some frameworks do focus on the importance of organization-wide improvements (not just at the team level). It is not as important to focus on exactly “how” root causes external to an Agile team are addressed, but rather that they ARE being addressed “somehow”.

The Retrospective is valuable. The Retrospective is like a corporate health check every 2 weeks (in scrum methodology). Ignoring or deferring the signs of degraded corporate “health” just because a team cannot really solve the problem alone is costly.

We know that one of the questions teams should be asking themselves in a Retrospective is “what is preventing us from delivering value faster”? This question strikes at the core of the fundamental economic justification to invest in Agile teams, because:

Every time we take decisive action on an impediment raised in a Retrospective, whether it be an action internal OR external to the team, we are effectively engaging in business value reengineering, and tangible cost reduction that can be measured (and analyzed).

So, don’t ignore items that are outside of a team’s control to fix. This is where management has to prove their ability to become servant-leaders. The question “What can I do for the team?” becomes simple: “Fix the issues that are slowing the team down, and the entire company will benefit”…

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