The Digital Agency for International Development

Agile Development and Retrospectives: Learning from failure?

By tariq on 11 December 2009

I had an interesting chat with Alan last night about the role of "retrospectives" and it reminded me about the ICT4D Twitter Chat today around "Learning from Failure" being organised by the fine folks at Inveneo.

He was at the XPDay in London earlier this week - a 2-day hotbed of agile technology development geekery featuring a combination of traditional speaker sessions and open spaces.

Aptivate is a big advocate of using Agile methodologies. We see them as central to taking a participatory approach to international development. One thing we do after delivering a project is have a "debrief" or "retrospective" with the project stakeholders.

"Four key questions to focusing a community on learning and improvement" are described at

  1. What did we do well, that if we don’t discuss we might forget?
  2. What did we learn?
  3. What should we do differently next time?
  4. What still puzzles us?
Simple and sensible.

The key idea that Alan picked up on though was this: do a retrospective at the end of each iteration.

Every two weeks, every incremental release of a project, sit back, take an hour with your team and ask the above questions.

We're certainly going to start doing this and from what was said at the XPDay - if you're going to do one thing to improve your development process, do this.

Finally - ensure that all participants adhere to "Retrospective Prime Directive:"

Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand.
Happy twitter chatting!

Dec. 11, 2009, 10:52 a.m. - Tweets that mention Agile Development and Retro...

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