Operation Bootstrap

Web Operations, Culture, Security & Startups.

The Never Shrinking Result of Consistent Review

| Comments

So you have an awesome post-mortem process. You retro every 2 weeks and you list out all the stuff that isn’t working. You diligently collect all the deltas and turn those into actions. You collect all the actions from your retro’s and your post-mortems and you track them in a tool where they sit… forever.

Sound familiar?

The problem with turning over rocks is that there’s usually ugly stuff hiding underneath. Cleaning that stuff up takes work & often leads to turning over more rocks and finding more ugly stuff – it never ends. This is like life though, there’s always stuff to do and much of that stuff will just never get done. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t track it, it just means you have to draw a line somewhere and say “this stuff will sit here and never get done”. That’s ok, it has to be.

This actually works pretty well with a Kanban board. You look at that backlog of stuff every day and the stuff that sits there a long time probably isn’t very important. It might seem important, and so you take those few things that seem like a priority and aren’t getting done and you move them to the top. One at a time – the list still grows, but you ship one at a time.

For those things that are important though you do need to make sure they get done. Tag these items in your tool and pull one in each week and stick it at the top of your Ready to Pull queue. Get someone to take it & run with it. Alternate retrospective created tasks with project related tasks. Pick a ratio – 1:2, 1:3, whatever keeps them moving through the system. Have team members alternate their work each week so they focus on at least one retro type item of their choice.

The point is to keep making progress. It probably helps to review your backlog of retro tasks to make sure the important ones are prioritized toward the top of the list but otherwise, just make progress. If you aren’t getting critical things done you need to consider if you are working on the right projects (too much technical debt leads to a faster growing backlog from retros) and if you have the right people. Non-critical stuff tends to fall to the bottom of the list naturally, let that process work the way it’s supposed to.