To conclude my Agile Life series I’d like to expand on the last two concepts that are key to implementing your Agile life. Again, one of Stephen Covey’s habits for highly effective people is incorporated in them and that is “Sharpen the Saw”.
- Timeboxing (Sprinting)
- Backlog Creation
- Backlog Refinement
- Review and Retrospective
Item #3 is a productive and adaptive feature of the agile process and involves the continuous Refinement of your Life Backlog. This is a time toward the end of every sprint when you look ahead to the next few sprints and plan what you are going to focus on and accomplish next. It’s your time to relook the order of your items and move them up or down in priority based on your needs and desires. It is also a time when you can add or remove items from your backlog based on changes in situation.
The final component of your Agile Life process is the Review and Retrospective. This is done on the last day of every sprint and is an ongoing process. It is a review of what you accomplished. What did you do well and what didn’t go well during the last 2-4 weeks of sprinting? What were your results and achievements? Did you complete all of the User Stories that you committed to in your sprint? If not, do you want to add them to the next sprint?
Other things to reflect on during your retrospective are your thoughts and feelings on the process and experience of Agile. What did you like about it? What did you hate? What could you do better next time to be more efficient and effective? What could you do differently in the next sprint so that you are more productive? Specifically, you should strive to take action on one of improvement items from the Retrospective and immediately incorporate it in to your next sprint.
Agile’s continuous improvement (sharpening the saw) aspects are powerful. The process facilitates SMART goal setting and the time boxing is key to increased levels commitment. The frequent reviews and refinements helps you change course sooner rather than later.
Living an Agile life requires a bit more planning and discipline in your activities but the rewards will be great. If the process is a bit unproductive and awkward at first, don’t give up! Most agile teams don’t find their rhythm for 3-5 sprints. Give it a try for a few sprints and let me know how it goes.