Monday, October 13, 2008

Post-It Storm

It's so easy to form rash opinions on subjects I know so little about.

Retrospectives: love them.

Planning: not as much.

Here's why: I attended a "retrospective" on an event I did not attend, but had helped to publicize. (I work in marketing and communications -- has anyone ever run an Agile Marcomm department? More on that some other time...) Everyone was there -- planners, attenders, speakers, vendors (at least from our company). Ideas were shouted out and listed in a couple of categories (what worked/didn't work/do better next time). All ideas were valid and noted, and after an hour I was energized and inspired about doing the same event the next time it rolled around -- bigger and better, of course.

But when it comes to planning, the same approach doesn't work as well (read: work as well for me). In planning sessions, again, all ideas are noted, and then prioritized and assigened to people and into iterations (read: Sprints). But: ALL ideas? There consistently seem to be too many, and we never finish our pile before the next planning brainstorm meeting. To me, all those clever plans and tasks that might be nice but are not important are just noise. They leave me with a sense of incompletion and overwhelm whenever I confront my to-do list (read: Sprint plan).

Is that the idea? What's wrong with tossing things off the list? Surely there must be a way a planning meeting can leave me as excited and raring to go as that retrospective did...

1 comment:

MJT said...

I hope we get other posters in her soon, so this becomes more than just a chat between us about the strange ways of aglists. Use those marketing and publicity skills to get this blog followed! ;-)

Remember this about anything that purports to be "agile": if it hurts, maybe you're not doing it right. I'll bet that a lot of folks, on their first exposure to Scrum ceremonies like the Planning Meeting and Retrospectives have exactly the opposite reaction that you did: love the planning, hate the retrospective.

Why might that be so? Occam's Razor says that, all other things being equal, the simplest answer is often the best. And your brief description of the planning you did suggest that what you walked away with from your planning was not what I generally walk away with.

I started doing agile with a bunch of rabid XPers (okay, I was one of the rabid ones, back then). XP has "the Planning Game," a name I always liked. And it was always work, but it was always fun, and much to our surprise, it always worked.

Hold on, I feel a post coming on over at my award-winning (someday), much-followed (soon) blog. Check it out, and see if it helps. It'll certainly help me, as all the readership of this blog will now rush over to mine ...

+ Michael