Don’t keep stuck to your daily routine

Don't keep stuck to your daily routine
Good advice on a pullover of mine

There’s a certain type of quiet movie that I like a lot. It usually starts with a stranger entering a closed group, e.g. a village and the dynamics that enfold because of it. “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert“, “Fried Green Tomatoes” or “Kitchen Stories” are excellent examples. Did you ever stop to wonder, why the movies show that particular point in time, when the new element is introduced? Why not the 5 or 10 years before that?

Because such a movie would be bor-*yawn*-ing: A closed “system” tends to reach an equilibrium and stay there. Even things that make you think “WTF?” when starting a new job will become “the way things are done” a few weeks down the road. And once we’ve gotten used to stupid things, we stop seeing the madness and stop initiating improvements.

Introducing a new element can be immensely beneficial for the agile “inspect and adapt”. Here are some ideas to get a new perspective on the status quo:

  • When someone is on holiday try to get a temporary replacement and pay attention to their observations
    • At my workplace we substitute POs and SMs when they’re on vacation
  • If you’re several SMs, why not switch and facilitate the retrospective of another team once in a while?
  • Have an outsider observe standups and retro for a sprint
  • Get new team members to speak their minds, before they lose their fresh perspective

If you can’t get someone new, you can still vary the location:

Or try new methods, like Thorsten Kalnin who prepares a different retrospective every time. Also see Retro Wiki for method ideas and my very own Retr-O-Mat 🙂

And there’s probably a gazillion more possibilities … What do you do to rock the boat?

Published by Corinna Baldauf

Corinna Baldauf has filled every Scrum role there is and then some. Currently she spends most of her days writing and occasionally facilitating retrospectives. She's interested in lean, agile, coaching, leadership & UX. You can follow her on Twitter, subscribe to her (Retromat) newsletter and buy her books.

2 replies on “Don’t keep stuck to your daily routine”

  1. Hi,

    There are things missing in what you’re saying:

    – What to do with the input you receive from the team members? Where do you store it, how do you process it, how do you use it?
    – What about the overhead of doing this?

    Quick question: Why do we need a fresh perspective in the first place?

  2. Hi there!

    I’ll address the question first: “Why do we need a fresh perspective in the first place?”

    Because from the “inside”, i.e. as part of a group, it’s hard to see flaws in the behaviour of the group.
    I recall a particular occasion when I noticed a problematic habit in a team quite early, but “put it on pause” for more pressing issues. By the time, the urgent issues were solved, I’d gotten used to the habit and half forgotten. The team’s PO ditto. The system had stabilized, so to speak. It took a temp PO with a fresh pair of eyes to kick me out of inertia by telling me that the habit was not okay and needed addressing. And I was thankful for the wake up call.
    Someone from the outside can often see things more clearly.

    Is that what you were aiming for?

    As for the thing that you perceive as missing:
    “What to do with the input you receive from the team members?”
    I wrote the article assuming, that there are retrospectives and a way to deal with surfacing issues in place. (I write about Scrum and Kanban and both use retrospectives.)

    Under the same assumption, most of the suggestions don’t add overhead 🙂
    (Also I didn’t mean to imply that you seek a fresh perspective all the time, but every once in a while – e.g. every 2 to 3 months – to help you see blind spots.)

    Thanks for taking the time to comment,
    kind regards,


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