Innovation: Running Experiments and Learning
In my last article on Incubating Innovation, we explored the culture and mindset of accountable experimentation. This article focuses on actionable tools and approaches.
Within agile frameworks, the team retrospective is the primary workshop for planning and evaluating experiments. Yet most team retrospectives I see are broken. Teams spend too much time recording viewpoints and information—but not enough time reviewing or planning experiments. It is common to see the majority of the time spent gathering what went well, what did not go well, and appreciations. Yet where’s the focus on experiments, the learning process and trials for the next iteration?
To make things worse, some teams do not take the retrospective seriously. Maybe after the potential stress of the sprint review, the largely internal retrospective is a relief. A chance to chill out, maybe share some food, and pat each other on the back. However, innovation and learning take conscious effort, forward planning and accountability.
As I work with organizations, I often sit in on retrospectives. Of all the regular workshops/ceremonies, these sessions are typically the least prepared for and worst executed. I often see lazy retrospectives where a basic lessons-learned format is used, but timings are not managed and the recommendations for the next sprint get skimped as they run out of time.
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"A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject."
- Winston Churchill