I finally got a chance to listen to Software Engineering Radio’s podcast of Linda Rising about retrospectives after it was recommended by a friend. If you facilitate retrospectives and have not listened to Linda’s interview, make the time to listen to this podcast. It is full of interesting tips, tricks and techniques. Linda made a comment about halfway though her interview which resonated with me and I wanted to share it with you since it helps explain my motivation to work with software teams and why I am passionate about Agile software development.
During the interview Linda said, and I am paraphrasing here, that retrospectives are a way for people to break free from their old behaviors and become the people they want to be at work. So many times in our careers, we play this role that is assigned to us by our peers or management. Or we perform this role out of some misguided habit, even if it is not helping us. In Linda’s opinion, through the ritual of a retrospective, we are given the opportunity to pause, reflect and decide what behaviors we want to take forward with us. In this way, a retrospective can be both transformative to the individuals and by allowing the people to change, the organization is redefined by the actions of the reenergized individuals
This is one of the reasons of why I am a consultant – I want to give people the opportunity to be the person they want to be at work. So often in our careers we are chained to our past behaviors and decisions we feel we cannot escape them. However, I feel the only thing holding us back from change at our workplace is accepting that all the authority and power to change resides in us, we just have to choose it. We don’t need our manager’s permission to change our attitude or start being helpful. We just have to want the change and recognize change starts with us. We just have to decide that we don’t want to carry around all those chains and links to the past.
When this is the case, then role of someone like me is to buy enough space for people to feel secure enough to take the first steps. Most of the business and technical practices I recommend are about creating safety, trust and breathing room so the organization can be transformed not by me, but by the participants. Now that is powerful!