Tuesday, September 26, 2017


I’m working on a new assignment as part of an agile coaching team leading a transformation at a large organization. One of my fellow coaches is also a former Navy officer. We’ve had a number of conversations about how many of the techniques developed by the military can be applied to make any team a high-performing one.

One particular tool is debriefing. I’ll admit, I didn’t do a lot of this in my military career, but the idea is to take time after any activity to review how it went. Kind of sounds like a retrospective, doesn’t it?

As an agile coach, I find this is a great tool. Just the other day I observed one of my teams run a stand-up. As soon as they were done, I gave them a debrief. It only lasted a minute. I highlighted what they did well and where they could improve. I have used the same approach with other teams on everything from iteration planning to retrospectives...sounds kind of “meta” but why shouldn’t you evaluate how effective your retrospective was? This technique is based on the approach of learning a new idea, practicing it, and getting feedback to reinforce the idea.

Learn, Practice, Reinforce

One key to debriefs, and I think this is important for a good retrospective, is to start by stating the goal of the activity. At the end of the iteration, can your team members state what the iteration goal was? How else can you evaluate how you did without thinking about what you set out to do.