The most important agile practice?

As a coach, I've gone into numerous environments with the intention of introducing agile. Of course, I always talk about the values and the principles. Of course, I try to help people to see that there is no one true agile. There's no prescribed set of practices that once followed earn you the agile merit badge.

At the same time, these teams need something concrete. What things can one do in order to set them on the path to "being agile"?

Where do we begin?

There are so many practices to choose from, where does one start?

You could pick something easy and generally unoffensive to anyone on the team and start there. Continuous Integration is often a good place to start when you're looking for something nobody is threatened by. Or perhaps you could identify some of your more troubling areas and try to tackle those. This is more risky, but can give rapid and significant return.

I've seen a lot of coaches take approaches such as these. And I've seen them work well. I've done it myself.

But over the years, I've come to value one agile practice as a solid starting point over all others…

The Retrospective

Change is highly stressful. Even positive change, such as a marriage or a better job or the birth of a child, adds stress to our lives. Most of us prefer to avoid stress, especially stress that does not bring positive results in exchange for the angst.

Retrospectives foster continuous improvement. They provide us an opportunity, every so often, to reflect and assess. Well (and regularly) executed retrospectives provide a framework for determining when we need to make adjustments to how we operate. They provide every team member an equal chance to speak their mind. They are time dedicated to how in the midst of a general focus on what.


I intend to write more about retrospectives over the course of the next few weeks, but I've nothing to say that hasn't already been said quite well by others. The following are a few sources I've found useful. Please feel free to comment with other resources you've found particularly helpful.