Research Question

Official Title Master Thesis Proposal

Inspecting Retrospectives – Are Retrospectives the Silver Bullet of Agile Project Management? What Factors are involved in Creating Successful Retrospectives?

Objectives

  1. Investigate the details of how retrospectives are actually held in software development projects and how well the different aspects are received by the participants 
  2. Identify criteria to judge the success of retrospectives and determine whether participants usually experience retrospectives as successful or just as inefficient meetings that are a waste  of time
  3. Identify and explore the factors that have an impact on the effectiveness of retrospectives (positively and negatively) and discover what the participants believe to be the essence of getting the most value out of retrospectives
  4. Discover whether and to what extent retrospectives can be used to counteract the challenges that agile processes pose (as identified by prior research). Discover to what extent retrospectives might even be a possible driving factor for increasing a team’s productivity and agility

The research is going to be conducted on several different levels. 

1) The Facts

Inspect the details of how retrospectives are actually held in software development projects.

At the end of the master thesis I aim to have an idea of how retrospectives are actually done in practice - not just in theory - not just when the agile coach is present.

E.g.

  • Are they held?
  • how are they held?
  • What are the subjects? Are action points decided on?  
  • How often are the action points put into practice?
  • How often are "games" used?
  • How high is the trust level in scrum teams?

2) The Poll

At the end of the master thesis I also aim to have determined whether in the participants’ experience retrospectives are actually successful or just inefficient and time consuming. I want to have an idea about how good retrospectives are as a method of making teams more effective

3) Evaluation

Through the research I intend to discover what problems the participants experience in retrospectives that are impediments to the success of retrospectives as well as ascertaining what the participants believe to be the essence of good retrospectives.

That is, a first hand evaluation of retrospectives as such: 

E.g.

  • What do people value?
  • what do they see as problems / common pit falls? common dangers?
  • success factors for retrospectives
  • Which goals do people think can actually be reached by retrospectives
  • Which problems do people think can actually be solved by retrospectives
  • What do participants define as good retrospectives?
  • Positive and negative side effects of retrospectives
  • Most important aspect of a retrospective, least important one?)
  • What character traits and skills should the moderater bring to the table (if any)
  • How authentic are people in retrospectives?
  •  In what phase of the retrospective do most problems occur?
  • Do retrospectives help make projects successful?
  • What motivates people to participate in retrospectives instead of just attending?
  • Are there values that need to be acknowledged and accepted in order for retrospectives to be successful?
  • How important are games?
  • How important is the level of trust?
  • Do people think retrospectives can influence culture

4) Conclusions

  • Determine whether and to what extent retrospectives can be used to counteract the challenges that prior research identified when implementing Scrum – whether retrospectives might not even be a possible driving factor in increasing agility in the sense of the agile manifesto.Can retrospectives help us become more pragmatic?
  • What are the most important factors in moderating an effective retrospective? How does one get the most value out of retrospectives?

 

5) Possible Correlations

  • Age,
  • where people come from
  • Role in project
  • values
  • charactar trait
  • motivators
  • values of agile
  • level of trust in team
  • communication model (e.g. 4  ear theory)