Retrospectives in an Agile Environment (1)

I am now going through Chapter 5 of the Agile Practice Guide on implementing an agile project.

The first of the practices that agile advocates is that of retrospectives.   Before I discuss this, let me talk about the analog of this type of practice in traditional project management.

It is the lessons learned process, part of the Close Project or Phase process according to the 5th Edition of the PMBOK Guide.  This lessons learned process is part of the final process of any project.   It is a review of what worked and what didn’t, and is designed to help future projects avoid similar mistakes, or to take advantage of best practices implemented by the project.

However, a few years ago I was at the PMI Chicagoland monthly dinner meeting when the subject of the talk was exactly this lessons learned process and how it had changed.

Companies were now doing the process throughout the project to make mid-course corrections.   This news was enthusiastically received, and I went to the person giving the talk and asked him what the impetus was for the change.   “Oh, that’s easy to answer,” he said.   “It comes from the retrospectives done in agile.”

And so, I was excited to see that in the 6th Edition, the lessons learned is its own separate process that is done throughout the project.   It is a concrete example of how agile is not only transforming how projects are done in that agile environment, but it is also having an effect on how traditional project management is done.

However, there are differences between the “lessons learned” process done in traditional projects and the “retrospectives” done in agile.   I will discuss these in the next post.


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