Agile has several ceremonies or events that contribute to a sprint, one of them is a ‘Sprint Retrospective’ where the team comes together for reflection at the end of the sprint. My first introduction to this many years ago was as far as you could imagine what a true retrospective is, but I could see the fundamental ideology behind it.
One thing I become convinced of very early is, how little I know, and how much knowledge there is out in the world. Knowledge that I do not have enough years in my life left to possibly learn it all so what can I do about this? This is where Inspect, Review & ReDirect (IRR) was born, out of a need to assemble and direct my own growth. For me that growth has been both professionally and personally with rapid velocity, where I found myself in uncharted waters without any personal compass. I felt completely overwhelmed by everything, feeling like an impostor and wanting to walk away from a profession that I hold dear. If anyone finds themselves in this circumstance you may feel this could be of use to control and direct your learning blows so as not to hit the air of frustration.
Most of the teams I have worked in have a 2-week sprint cycle and during that time as the test resource I would be involved with the developers during the cycle. It’s during that time I make notes for ‘Inspection’ which could contain the following:
- technical processes the developers discuss
- tools being used by developers
- higher level of knowledge required on the system or a tool
- infrastructure knowledge
- database knowledge
- refinement around application of agile
- a recommended book
- twitter links
- discussion from a meetup
These notes I take generally during Sprint Planning or Backlog Refinement as this is where the meatier discussions take place within the team. It would be unusual for me to turn up to these meetings without a note book which in the past has included morning catch up. I used the phrase here as morning catch up as the team did not include any other Agile or scrum event during the sprint, so we used this to gather information and share knowledge. This was a business decision to run the teams this way which helped me to see the need for being flexible in different situations. I also source things I would like to investigate from other means which I have included in the list above.
This takes about half a day where I review my notes and prioritise the things I wanted to investigate which could be:
- book a 30 min meeting with a developer to go through some high-level concepts which requires setting a meeting agenda, so the developer is prepared
- research subjects on line & make notes
- investigate on line courses or training
- approach testing forums for advice MoT is my definite go to place
Depending on how your company approaches self-learning this could be done during your work day or as part of you taking control of your own professional learning during your own time. What you’re doing now is gathering information and judging its value to your own professional growth. Your looking to add depth to your own unique knowledge base.
ReDirect is an odd word to use within this concept, but if we think about the scenario of Redirecting water through a diversion dam it might make more sense. Water is ReDirected from its natural course and guided via an artificial water course or canal where its uses become a positive tool for the future.
So, it might be, our thoughts or assumptions were going in one direction until we had a team meeting, conversation or read something online that made us question our understanding. Upon taking in knowledge for clarity, we find our original assumptions can go two distinct pathways. Either the knowledge helps us to solidify our original assumption to be true, or, the pathway is forked, and the assumption is ReDirected to deeper understanding. To ReDirect a firmly held belief can add a state of distraction to our lives so to counter act that turmoil, we can apply IRR process to facilitate change smoothly.
To implement ReDirect process, we have our list of things we want to gain clarity on, so we pick the top 2* ensuring one of them requires training (training programme needs to small enough to complete within the 2-week sprint) and backlog the others. I have purchased some smallish training packages from Udemy when they are on sale and put them aside for when I can include them in this process. If the training is particularly weighty but the value is high, then continue to bring it into your next professional growth sprint and only include 1 extra item until the training is completed. With courses like Udemy they will let you know how many hours it might take to complete which you can use as your estimate for when you will be finished.
* Capacity is dependent on several factors including time, resources and technical complexity. It is up to everyone to estimate their own capacity and the number 2 was only given as an example.