It sounds to me like you’ve really been burned by Scrum, and have thus gotten a bad impression of good practices that have been executed poorly.

I learned Extreme Programming (XP) from Pivotal Labs during an engagement from late 2010 to early 2011. We did:

  • a Monday morning Iteration Planning Meeting (IPM) during which stories were estimated (typically after a single dev had helped the PM in a pre-IPM toward the end of the previous week)
  • Daily standup at 9am
  • Friday retrospectives at end of day, like 5pm

I have never seen a team more aggressively anti-tech-debt and pro-refactoring. They literally had a sign on the wall that said, “Red, Green, Refactor”, a reference to the XP practice of test-driving code to the most quick-and-dirty implementation, and then refactoring it immediately once the tests were passing.

My experience with teams that don’t do retros is, they tend to have some pretty stifling issues stemming from a lack of communication. This was my experience in the early days at a popular business analytics SaaS, and I agitated for regular retros. At first it was like pulling teeth. At least one dev projected an eye-rolly sense of, “Why are we here instead of getting stuff done?” But then after the second or third try, people started opening up and airing frustrations they were having. Other people started speaking up and hashing things out. Action items were created. Problems were addressed. Instead of blindly charging ahead “getting stuff done” in the same dysfunctional manner, people started to implement better ways of working. Better testing practices. More understanding of refactoring techniques that we had discussed.

What’s the alternative? Do people just keep a running list of issues they’re experiencing, and then ask the team to have an ad hoc meeting to discuss them? Sucks if you’re an introvert and don’t like feeling a sense of shame that you’re the squeaky wheel stopping people from “getting stuff done”.

After two years at Business Analytics SaaS, they’ve grown from seven to 30 devs, and still maintain those weekly retros. It was occasionally discussed whether to make them bi-weekly, and that was voted down by a pretty sizable majority. Meetings should be rare, but there are some that are definitely worth it.

Advocate of Score Voting and Approval Voting. Software engineer. Father. Husband. American.

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