“Insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.”
Insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result. If you objectively evaluate what you’re doing repeatedly and are not satisfied with the output, why would you keep repeating it? Humans are creatures of habit and routine. If you’d like to change your routine, you should focus on small and incremental changes. How does this work in groups of people? At home…, at work? We want to improve our behavior and practices, but the daily routine often prevents us.
Here’s the idea:
1/ create an environment that allows to try out something else, regardless of the outcome
2/Actually plan (with your peers) to try out new stuff
and 3/ focus on the learning.
‘Trying out‘ basically means experimenting. It could be whatever: a new approach, a new practice, a different technique, … you don’t know the outcome; you make an educated guess. List your assumptions.
A few recommendations:
- Select a limited number of experiments (maybe just ‘one’) (as with any action point for improvement), and plan to “execute” the experiment the next iteration (e.g., the next two weeks)
- Regardless of the outcome, plan to discuss and evaluate the experiment at the next ‘retrospective’. An experiment should be evaluated quantitatively and qualitatively – specify the “evaluation metrics” beforehand.
- Focus on the learning: what did you learn? Ultimately, do you consider the outcome a success or a failure? When not convinced, you can plan to extend the experiment. Or create a different experiment. Often, in teams, there are a lot of dynamics – different backgrounds, different opinions, no consensus – and that’s okay. The point is to agree, not to agree, and to plan an experiment and evaluate the outcome.
Questions to ask
Focus on the following questions:
1/ What did we do well?
2/ What did we learn?
The first question helps us to focus on the positive outcome. It’s essential to celebrate successes – do not only focus on bad stuff happening.
The second question helps us to really think about learning. In fact, it’s not that important if we fail or succeed, it’s important to learn (from successes and failures). Remember FAIL = First Attempt In Learning.
FAIL = First Attempt In Learning
Tool: celebration grid
The following canvas helps to keep track of successes, failures and experiments. And most importantly to focus on learning.
Behaviors can be mistakes, experiments, or practices – these can have a successful outcome or not.
Look at the different parts of the canvas:
|Mistakes (unintentionally) may have a positive outcome, let’s evaluate and perhaps: turn them into a practice
|Run experiments. Evaluate, celebrate successes.
|Practices with a successful outcome we keep
|Let’s not repeat practices (mistakes) which lead to failure
|Run experiments. Evaluate, learn from failures.
|Practices may fail, we evaluate why. Is it a one-time failure? Can we improve?
|Learning is optimal when the probability of success or failure is equal.
“Practices” in the broad sense, this includes relationship to people, tools, techniques.
You can use this canvas
– during retrospectives
– during any team meetings
Create a culture of experimenting. Make small investments to experiment.
Time-box the experiments. When the experiment turns out to be a failure, it had a small cost.
Make sure to plan the experiments (you can add these to the work backlog for the next iteration) and make sure to evaluate the experiments at a regular time.
- We celebrate the coming of a new team member
- We celebrate the work done by our new Scrum master
- We had bad luck regarding the review.
- We made some mistakes which shouldn’t be repeated
- We had some mistakes, but these were acceptable
- We had some learnings with positive outcomes! Let’s repeat these.
- We had some lessons about failures, and we made an action point!
- And … let’s plan new experiments!