About Retrospectives and Accepting Criticism

I believe the most important point in any agile methodology is the possibility of improvement that is offered to the team through constant feedback and also practices like retrospectives.

However, I notice that sometimes teams are not used to question their own behavior, and make the same mistakes over and over again. This was also brought to my attention in one of the mailing lists I participate, where was questioned if teams do enough continual improvement.

These days, while reading the Toyota Way, I got some better understanding about it . According to the author:

Teamwork never overshadows individual accountability at Toyota. Individual accountability is not about blame and punishment, but about learning and growing.

And more important, in the words of Andy Lund, who is a program manager at Toyota and grew up in Japan:

People who have not been to Japan may not understand that the objective is not to hurt that individual but to help that individual improve – not to hurt the program but to show flaws to improve the next program. If you understand that deeply, you can get through that constructive criticism. No matter how good a program or a presentation someone makes, we believe there is always something that can be improved, so we feel it is our obligation. It is not an “obligatory negative”, but an obligatory opportunity to improve–it is the heart of kaizen

And that is exactly what happens in practice. People interpret suggestion and observations as negative criticism, and don’t see that the only way for a team to continually improve is to continually question its own behavior and face its weakest points.



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