HOW RUNNING BETTER RETROSPECTIVES SAVED A SCRUM MASTER'S LIFE

img

CASE STUDY

This is a real case study about one of our clients. He works at a Fortune 500 company, and was on the verge of getting divorced and getting fired at the same time.

His team was out of his control. Things were not moving fast, people were blaming each other, higher management was after him. He was constantly doing over work, but without any results.

His personal life suffered, he was sleep deprived, heart broken from betrayal of his team and worst thing all of his efforts to fix the problems were not working.

Let's call him Dave. As he does not want to reveal his real name and company name for the sake of privacy. In this case study you will read, how Dave got his life back. Held his Job, and how he saved his marriage as well. All in a span of just 43 days.

Above all Dave also helped us to improve Reetro as he was one of the first users of Reetro. Therefore we have huge respect for him and he continues to help us improve Reetro.

Let's get started.

Q. Tell us about your background?

I work at a large corporation in Silicon Valley USA. Earlier this year that company did some re-organization and let go around 2000 employees. As a result, my team was reduced and merged into another department.

Here I was assigned the responsibility of Scrum master for a team of seven persons

We usually ran 2 week sprints with a retrospective meeting at the end of each sprint. For the first few months this team worked moderately well. But then things started to fall apart.

Product owner was not happy with the team as we were not able to deliver what we promised. After 2 such warnings our head of development called me and showed his extreme dissatisfaction with me and my team.

I was put on a PIP (performance improvement plan) with two months to improve things or I have to leave.

Now this was a real tough time for me. As I was already struggling in my private life, and now this new PIP thing made me feel really bad.

Reetro has played an important role in strategizing and monitoring the retrospective process.

Q. What problems you and your team were facing?

We were following the process, doing our planning, estimation, grooming, daily standup and retrospectives as well. But there was something broken. I can describe those issues in 3 different areas.

Internal issues

There were internal issues among team members. As it was two teams merged, they were not able to get along together.

External issues

We were constantly bombarded with distractions, production errors, hot fixes, and a constant stream of unplanned activities.

Lack of direction

As a team we were lost.No matter how much we were trying to improve things were not moving fast enough

Q. What you were doing to resolve those problems?

In the past I have tried to resolve the problems within and outside of the team. But nothing really happened.

We were doing retrospectives at the end of each sprint. And people were discussing the generic problems. Like unplanned hotfixes, and some technical problems which were causing the delays.

I think the real problem was the motivation of the team. When we are not internally driven and do not work as a team, we can never improve.

Q. How you discovered REETRO?

I remember in the beginning, we have used a tool to run retrospectives, but for some reasons we stopped using it. One day while I was booking our next retrospective meeting, I searched on Google about "retrospective tools" and came across Reetro

I read a little about the tool and signed up. I played with Reetro for about 30 seconds and invited my team.

I remember one of things I set while playing with the tool was to set the automation feature.

We have made a significant progress in following up on the action items. We are also more confident in our discussions

Q. How REETRO helped you?

One day before our retrospective meeting all the team members including me got an email to submit feedback. And we all did.

Little did I know at that time that this feedback will change the course of our journey.

On the retrospective day, what I saw on the board was really surprising for me. There were around 30 different anonymous comments from my team. And I could not believe what people have written.

It was the kind of feedback which really highlighted all of our core problems. Before whenever I have asked my team to give feedback. It was a generic feedback and they never opened up.

What I saw on that day was the core of our problems. Some of them are highlighted below

1-Technical team lead was talking too much, promising everything, making accurate estimates but never delivering on them.

2- One senior designer/animator was always fixing bugs in the work done by junior animator. He never had the time to finish his own work.

3- There were too many hot fixes which were unplanned and team was spending too much time on them.

4- One business analyst was always sick, never doing anything but in daily stand ups she was taking all the credits, and showing it like she is doing all the work.

5- Few comments criticizing me about not doing enough to stop the lead developer and this lady from wasting all the time.

And there were many more comments which I cannot write here. But the real point was that because the team was giving anonymous feedback so they really wrote about the actual problem without any fear.

Now it was an eye opener for me. I got to understand the underlying problems within the team. Over the period of next few weeks, I talked with my team members one by one.

What actions I took afterwards was basically I got my technical team lead replaced and removed the business analyst.

Next step I took together with my team was to say no to unplanned activities. And by using the action tracker features we were tracking all the action items.

In the end,me and my team were able to improve our development process just by running better retrospectives. I was taken out of PIP(Performance improvement plan) and slowly we were able to move things in the right direction, and most importantly with the right mindset.

Q. Which REETRO features you use the most?

Our favourite feature is the ability to use automation. It really simplifies the feedback collection.

Another feature we like the most is ability to track action items. In retrospectives usually there are action points, and they span across many sprints and it was hard to track them. So now we can easily assign and track action items.

We also like to colour our comment cards and then sort them afterwards

I think we are using almost all the features Reetro is offering.

Q. Will you recommend REETRO to others?

Yes, and to be honest I have recommended Reetro to many people in my network. The important point to remember is that, tools like Reetro will help you to understand the core of your problems and give you valuable insights about your retrospective process.

RUN DAMN GOOD RETROSPECTIVES

Use Reetro Today And Take Your Retrospectives from Good To Great

SIGN UP - IT'S FREE
© 2019 Reetro, IvS