Futurespectives

Over the last few months (whilst I’ve spent nearly no time blogging) I’ve been paying a lot of attention to practices and principles contributing to leaner software development. With principles taken from the Toyota Production System, this encompasses continually delivering  value-ful, quality software to your customer through a refined process that advocates continuous improvement and elimination of waste; reducing the concept-to-cash lead time.

A lot about lean and the principles that kanban introduces interests me a lot, the inventory, limiting work in progress and of course, quality, but I’ll save all that for another day. For now, under the realm of continuous improvement (something we should all be doing, lean or not), I’d like to mention something I heard from Mike Wagg after his time at QCon, London back in March. In this post Mike mentions what he picked up listening to Energized Work talk about their development practices. One thing I liked were ‘futurespectives’ and I tried this with our team recently.

After a retrospective, with our developers, development manager, project manager and business person in attendance, we started talked about the next large block of functionality we were to deliver. While doing so I probed the conversation with the questions Energized Work recommend:

Pretending we’ve delivered, what issues did we have to deal with and how did we deal with them?

While this sounds like an exercise that would only state the obvious, having the whole team involved in discussion means that, subtly, everyone can air their assumptions.

The conversation that followed provided an insight into the risks we faced as a team, that we would probably only have talked about with hindsight at the next retrospective. We were able to anticipate possible problems and come up with goals to help mitigate them, such as addressing quicker feedback with on-demand demos, obstacles affecting testing complex parts of the application and how we can deploy completed work sooner.

Together with the goals from the retrospective itself, we ended up with a nice set of pointers to help us ensure we improved and delivered successfully, once again.

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