Agile Teams in Digital Media: A 13 Week Retrospective

Agile Teams in Digital Media: A 13 Week Retrospective

Rachel Ralph (Centre for Digital Media, Canada) and Patrick Pennefather (University of British Columbia, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9993-7.ch020

Abstract

As we move towards the third decade of the 21st century, the development of emerging technologies continues to grow alongside innovative practices in digital media environments. This chapter presents a comparative case study of two teams (Team A and Team B) in a professional master's program during a 13-week, project-based course. Based on the role of documentation and the reflective practitioner, team blogs representing learner experiences of Agile practices were analyzed. This case study chapter focused on one blog post of a mid-term release retrospective. The results of this case study are framed around Derby and Larson's (2006) Agile retrospectives framework, including: set the stage, gather data, generating insights, deciding what to do, and closing the retrospective. The case study results suggest the need for public documentation of retrospectives and how this can be challenging with non-disclosure agreements. Also, the authors identify the importance of being a reflective practitioner. Future research on educational and professional practices needs to be explored.
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Introduction

As we move into the third decade of the 21st century, the development of emerging technologies continues to exponentially grow as with the demand for innovative practices in digital media environments. A variety of Agile approaches that champion iterative product development more commonly used in software companies, challenge previously established hierarchical waterfall techniques (Appelo, 2011, 2016). As we progress, a better understanding of best practices within Agile project management need to be articulated. One such practice is reflection through the application of retrospective tools. The field would benefit from understanding not only what retrospective tools teams are successfully (or not successfully) using, but also the impact of these reflective tools on iterative versions of digital prototypes. As researchers, we can better understand Agile practices by investigating special cases. Part of that understanding requires teams to document their reflective processes so that these can be examined, interpreted, and shared publicly.

Chapter Overview

This chapter will present a case study of two teams (Team A and Team B) in a professional master’s program. Both teams applied Agile practices during a 13-week project-based course. Team blogs representing learner experiences of Agile practices will be analyzed, highlighting reflections that occurred during a mid-term release retrospective. To remain integral to the structure of an Agile retrospective, the chapter will be presented using Derby and Larsen (2006) framework. In particular, the chapter will detail the following sections considering the reflective nature of an Agile retrospective: setting the stage, gathering data, gathering insights, deciding what to do, and closing the retrospective.

To set the stage (commonly referred to as the Background section), we offer a definition of an Agile retrospective, drawn from the theoretical literature of the reflective practitioner and discuss the role of documentation through retrospective activities. In the gathering data (also known as Results) section, we will detail the methods used to capture mid-term team retrospectives through a comparative case study of two team blogs. The gathering insights section most resembles a typical data discussion in which team-collected data will be discussed based on themes that emerged from the data. Learner actions will be examined and explained in the larger context of what actions they proposed to improve throughout subsequent project development sprints. In the deciding what to do section, limitations of this case study, key values of reflective practices, and recommendations for future research will be identified. In the closing the retrospective section we will offer readers some concluding remarks on the role of retrospectives in Agile project development cycles.

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Set The Stage

To set the stage for an Agile software development process it is important for teams to understand the definition, purpose, and features of a retrospective. For Derby and Larsen (2006), a retrospective allows teams to reflect on work previously completed, so as to best prepare them for the work that will be done in the future. We will set the stage by discussing: how teams conduct retrospectives, the role of reflection, and the importance of documentation.

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