Review: How was it for you?

Review - How was it for you?
Review – How was it for you?

What is your opinion of someone who keeps on making the same mistake? I expect it is probably not very high. Making mistakes is inevitable, but we should learn from them. Having a “review” is one way we can do this.

Having a review means taking the time to look at what we did and how we did it. We can learn from what we did, and do better the next time.

Review: When, How, What?

Hold your review when something is complete and when it is still fresh in people’s minds.

I prefer “light weight”, “low ceremony” activities. Doing our review that way means we can do it quickly and cheaply.  The simplest way is to ask the people involved – “How was it for you?”

Keep it simple. Make the product of your review a few things you plan to improve the next time, and then put those changes into effect.

The idea of reviewing what you have done fits naturally into the iterative structure of Agile projects, but it can also be applied with Waterfall.

Use reviews to improve your productivity:

A review is intended to help us to: “Do it better next time!” The effort which goes into the review must be repaid by the improvements it causes.

  • Remember to include the different groups involved. If we are talking about a specification or requirements document, include: Business Users, Developers and Testers. The objective is not to find “what went wrong?” but to find a way to “do it better!”
  • Keep it simple. Make the product of your review a few things you plan to improve the next time. Make sure your review has some visible effect. People like to feel they have influenced how things are working. On the other hand, people do not like to be ignored. It is demotivating.

Some of the suggestions from different parties may be contradictory. For example: Some people may want more detail and others want to spend less time producing documentation. This is a challenge to your imagination, creativity and skill at negotiation.

What is the next step?

Adding reviews like this to your process is something you can do in a stealthy way. Start by identifying a work-product which is coming up for completion.

  • Who would you involve in your review?
  • When and how are you going to get hold of them?
  • What specific questions will you ask them?
  • How long will you allow yourself to manage the review so you can incorporate its findings into the next suitable activity?

Good luck! Have fun and tell me how you get on with your reviews.

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