One of the advantages of agile is that there are ceremonies baked in to ensure you regularly celebrate your victories and learn from your failures. In my experience, there is a lot to be gained from completing the year, putting it in the past and moving on without bringing forward any baggage you could be carrying.

A retrospective is not a silver bullet.

I've seen many bad retrospectives that give nothing more than lip service to the process. They follow the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law and they miss out on all of the benefits of this process.

  • What went well? Tick.
  • What went bad? Tick.
  • What will we do differently? Tick.
  • Let's go home!

A good retrospective should celebrate what's gone well (even when the project has been a failure) and authentically (ugh, can we lose this word in 2020?) acknowledge what didn't go well.

What went well

It is important to acknowledge what you've done well and what has worked. Allow yourself to appreciate what you've managed to achieve and how far you've come.

  • I joined SSW. Some of the best presenters I've seen have come from SSW.
  • I gave a one-hour user group talk (From Zero to Kubernetes) at 2 different user groups in Brisbane and Melbourne, with a massive turnout in Melbourne.
  • I started blogging and made it onto the first page of some google searches!
  • My shares have done great! :)
  • I started going to church again.
  • I have done significant work towards migrating a legacy .Net framework project across to .Net Core with an incremental approach.
  • I received great feedback from a Kubernetes project, specifically "You exceeded our most wildly optimistic expectations".
  • My son graduated from high school and is preparing to study engineering.
  • I was given responsibility for an intern, who has since joined SSW and is doing great work.
  • My colleagues appreciate, respect and seek out my feedback.

What didn't go so well

It is important to acknowledge what hasn't worked and what you've not done well. Be careful not to shame, judge or defend yourself. Just acknowledge that it didn't go well and the impact of having this not go well.

  • I gained a lot of weight.
  • I spent a lot of time travelling to and from work and I don't feel like I've done much more than travel, work and sleep.
  • I spent less time with my girlfriend. Time on the train was far less conducive to having our daily calls.
  • Preparing for the user group talk took way more time than I expected and it didn't go as well as I had hoped.
  • I don't feel like I've made any real impact this year. I know myself to be someone who generates significant value through software, and I don't feel like I've been as productive as I'm used to.

What improvements can be carried forward

The best improvements are incremental and specific, but in the spirit of New Year resolutions I'm going with big bold wishes. :)

  • I want to lose 15kg.
  • I want to spend more time with the people I care about.
  • I want to work from home at least one day per week.
  • I want to publish 1-2 blog posts per month.
  • I want to know my contribution improves the lives of others.

Final thoughts

As I reflect on the year, it feels like a step backwards compared to previous years, like I've been put on the bench. The year is gone and I don't feel like I've achieved as much as I'm used to. Even so, there's a sense of consolidating and that I've been in a holding pattern that I'm now free to break away from. It's time to refocus and reprioritise. From here, it seems like 2020 will be a year of big change.