As I was watering the plants in my garden one lazy Sunday morning, I found a few insects perched on some leaves. Initially, I ignored them, thinking they would disappear on their own. However, within a week, I saw that the whole plant was eaten up and it was almost about to perish.
Our work also may indicate similar threats early in their making. Often we tend to ignore early signs of problems because we believe they don’t demand our urgency. In collaborative working environments, any small issue left unattended to may end up slowing down the entire value chain.
This should definitely remind us of a few scenarios we’ve encountered in our daily work. Often, we see impediments coming our way, but we ignore them because we believe they don’t demand our urgency. However, these things eventually pose a major risk for the entire project. What could have been avoided will become an impossible problem. This situation is particularly relevant to agile teams. Because collaboration is crucial for the health of agile lifecycles, any small issue left unattended ends up slowing down the entire value chain.
Name and Description- Garden Your Thoughts
The next time I was conducting a retrospective with teams, I drew a picture of a plant on the board. “Look,” I said, “this plant is our project, and I would like us to do the following things.”
Think of all the bottlenecks that, if not addressed, would eat us up like a hungry worm devours leaves. Identify best practices that really worked well for us, and continue to work on them, just as we would care for flowers. Realize collectively what it is that we want to try different so that we stay on the right track, just like how we would nourish the plant with fertilizer and pesticides, the necessary action items. Lastly, identify potential areas of improvement, as we would tend to the drooping leaves on a plant.
Draw a plant on the whiteboard and ask your team to think of it as their project. Instruct them to:
1. Think of all the bottlenecks which, if not thought of, would damage the project like a hungry worm on leaves.
2. Identify best practices that worked well so far and continue to work on those just as we would care for the plants.
3. Realize collectively what it is that we want to try differently, the action items to stay on the right track, to secure the project(a plant with necessary fertilizers and pesticides)
4. Identify our areas of improvement, just how we would tend to the drooping leaves on a plant. This would help draw up good data points for discussion.
Large whiteboard or a large piece of poster paper. Three colors of sticky notes and markers.
This technique was originally published as part of the retrospectives article @ AgileConnection