Looking Back, Moving Forward: Retrospectives Help Teams Inspect and Adapt

Retrospectives are a great way for teams to inspect and adapt their methods and teamwork, and they're a great way for teams to build on success and learn from hard times. Retrospectives take a critical look at what happened during an iteration (or part of a project) without being critical of people. But not everyone realizes that, says Esther Derby, so in this column she outlines how to approach retrospectives in the most productive way.

Esther Derby's picture Esther Derby
When Trust Goes AWOL

Trust is invisible, but the symptoms of its absence are not. That is the theme of this column, in which Clarke Ching recounts the difficulty one of his clients went through to rebuild trust with a customer. The customer had long ago lost faith in the quality of the products provided by this client since every piece of software delivered seemed buggy. But both were determined to make the relationship work. That's when Clarke Ching stepped in and took an agile approach to relationship therapy.

Clarke Ching's picture Clarke Ching
meeting notes board Get Back on Track

Jeff Patton will admit that he's easily sidetracked. In a meeting or simply working on a problem with a small group, a cool idea or puzzling problem can send Jeff sideways. His head spins off track, and his mouth goes with it. He's not alone in this behavior; Jeff suspects everyone reading this column has been confined in a meeting called to resolve an important problem while someone—and it may have been you—burned up critical time to take the meeting off on a tangent. While not a completely curable condition, there are a few useful techniques Jeff explains in his column that will help keep a collaborating group on track.

Jeff Patton's picture Jeff Patton
The Face Plant

Sometimes fate conspires to humiliate us. Other times, we do a pretty good job all on our own. This week, Peter Clark explores the latter and how the effects are similar to a face plant. Peter had a similar experience and in this week's column he explains how, in 20-20 hindsight, it all could have been avoided.

Peter Clark
Events to the Rescue

You probably know at least one project that has been mired in controversy and indecision during analysis. Team members arm wrestle about a variety of issues: Should we write use cases or user stories? How does user interface design fit with use cases? What is the "right" size for a use case or story? In many situations, an effective remedy is to define your project's events. In this column, Mary Gorman looks at an example from a recent engagement.

Mary Gorman's picture Mary Gorman
The Why, When, and How of Defect Advocacy

When Ipsita Chatterjee started testing about a decade ago, her test manager and mentor told her, "A good tester is not one who finds the most defects, but one who closes the most defects." After years of developing her testing and test management skills, she couldn't agree more. She now asks herself, how can a tester close more defects? Her answer: by using a fine combination of product and technical knowledge, intuition, and personal skills. With that in mind, this article focuses on the definition of defect advocacy; why, when, and how to approach it; and a few ways of achieving it to an optimum level, which should help you release quality software applications.

Ipsita Chatterjee
Don't Let the Bedbugs Bite

Regardless of where you find bugs, they can be downright nasty. How you deal with them determines whether the infestation turns into a crisis or something that is dealt with swiftly. In this column, Fiona Charles explains how two hoteliers dealt with an infestation of some unwanted guests and the crisis management lessons she learned from the experience.

Fiona Charles's picture Fiona Charles
Estimation Safety Tips

Software estimation is more of a dance than a science. To help you avoid tripping during the estimation waltz, Karl Wiegers presents five safety tips in this week's column. They might not help you generate perfect estimates, but they address estimation realities that might keep you out of trouble.

Karl E. Wiegers
Sunny Skies or Storms?

Long-time advocate of status reports, Johanna Rothman has come across a new way of reporting the movement of a project using something we experience everyday—the weather. In this column, she sheds a little sunshine on this new technique, which demonstrates the status of a project a lot like meteorologists announce current weather conditions.

Johanna Rothman's picture Johanna Rothman
Do We Have to Choose Between Management and Leadership?

Do organizations need fewer managers and more leaders? Do the qualities of one outweigh those of the other? In this article, Esther Derby defines leadership and management, and shows how one test manager incorporates both.

Esther Derby's picture Esther Derby


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