I’d like to share an experiment I did two years ago, when we had to develop a new application and we received a stack of sheets full of draws, what people usually say that as requirements. I was willing to start the project, but this time I won’t give a plan based on these requieremets. Instead of this, we introduced into this team the person in charge of this project ( as a Product Owner), in order to negotiate new funcionalities, start conversations, underestand this new application, etc. Then we could start to iterate and increase the applications sprint by sprint ( or inch by inch).
Here we were trying to apply agile methodologies in our team! All of us knew this methodologies but actually was the first time we did this kind of stuff in the company we work for at the very beginning of a project, so we were in the spotlight trying to change few practices and the landscape (in fact without realizing we were also trying to change our culture, which it’s not easy but at the same time is really motivating).
To be honest, the project was really good, we feel comfortable with the methodology and all team agree that we did a great breakthrough in order to deal with this kind of projects. Actually we haven’t applied trendy new fashionable methodologies, but our meetings took another point of view: the way we start planning sprints, writing user stories, filling in with their points was completely new for some of them… We learn a lot from each other’s and it was an inspiring experience.
Introducing Celebration Grid
Finally once we deployed the application into production we agreed doing a meeting as a retrospective. My first goal of this meeting was to know what we did well and what we learn, hoping that if we increase good practices we would reasonability decrease bad practices.
Precisely for this reason, I thought it was a great opportunity to include a Celebration Grid, now we are cool so we could use this kind of things, right? Heheheheheheheeh
I did that because I had the feeling we learned a lot (for this reason we also had a lot of things to celebrate, hadn’t we?) and although some time we have problems giving feedback, sharing thoughts, etc., the celebration grid would be perfect for us, it helps people to participate and has a big visual impact too.
I have to admit, at first it’s not easy, I suggest having two or three things ready to hook inside the grid as an example for the rest of the team. It helped me to braking the ice. Keep the room clear, people should freely walk towards the grid and hook his/her post-Its and finally let time people think, don’t feel uncomfortable with silent, the only thing I did was saying ideas out loud, with the purpose of helping people directing or channeling his/her thoughts.
Here is the images of the blackboard with the Celebration Gird (sorry we are from Barcelona — Spain and the text was written in Catalan). Tip: blackboards with white pen it’s a s**it.
We shared our thoughts and as we predict we experimented ergo we learned!
As you can see the column with experiments is the most populated, we analyzed a few practices and we did a couple of errors (one of those errors it was that I couldn’t attend to one of our meeting because I was ill and the team agree it was an error ;)).
Apart from this, it was really useful because we talk about very interesting thinks:
- One of the errors was: work more than 40 hours per week. A very critical point from our culture….. We are trying to change that, people should understand that in this kind of jobs doing overtime as a habit is not a good politic.
- We have to improve how we continuously deploy our application into test environment, we had problems with this. We haven’t tested the application enough (another practice which defines our culture) so we give it a go using TDD, Unit Test or ATDD (hallelujah!!). This was a failed experiment.
- But we had nice successful experiments, and we are pretty proud of a couple of them.
o Refactoring: In every sprint we let time to refactor, reducing technical debt and improving our source code.
o Pair programming: We did it for first time with good results.
At sum up, we decided to do this kind of meeting every time we release a new version of this application and obviously Celebration Grid will be a must. Every day is good to celebrate something and sharing experiments, practices and errors. As my experience I enjoyed doing celebration grid it heled us giving/receiving feedback, connecting people, looking for ways to improve, new ideas, etc.