As we wind up 2022, now is a good time to reflect on our efforts and consider what we might do in 2023, in agile terms, to have a 2022 Retrospective. Most agile teams have a retrospective after every Sprint—we do it weekly, but the important thing is to do it regularly. Retrospectives at different time-scales help us consider different size changes—weekly, quarterly, and yearly. And, of course, December is a good time to retrospect on the past year.
The first step in a retrospective is to refer to your driving purpose and think about the data related to it. You might not have started 2022 with an explicit purpose, but you can use your own actions to infer an apparent purpose.
What was your driving purpose? Here are some possibilities: strengthening mental health, building a career, nurturing a family, connecting with colleagues, gaining or maintaining health, or learning a new skill.
Second, figure out how to objectively measure progress toward your purpose: What measures could help you determine how well you’re doing?
3 Subjective Assessment
Third, think subjectively: What went well over the last year? What went not so well? And what interfered with your progress? Try to think back over the whole period, We suggest remembering what you did each quarter, so you don’t overemphasize your most recent efforts.
Fourth, brainstorm about the future. How can you improve on your driving purpose?
Don’t feel you have to create New Year’s resolutions before January 1. Just think of this time as a period to brainstorm new approaches, or even adjust your purpose. If you chose one driving purpose for the year, what would it be?
When you choose a purpose, remember that sustaining your own, your family’s, and your community’s mental, physical, and financial health is an essential part of your purpose. We want ourselves, our family, and our community to be strong and to benefit from our success. We can easily lose initiative if we neglect the things and people that sustain us.
Related to your purpose, you might consider new habits you want to create or old habits you want to discard. We don’t recommend setting aggressive, result goals, like “I’m going to lose 50 pounds.” Instead, we suggest you measure tiny habitual behaviors that lead to results. How many days each week did you monitor your calorie consumption? How many days did you step into a gym, or run at least a block? These “tiny habits” can compound over time to life-changing results.
Don’t forget to measure friendship. How many friends asked whether you measured your calorie intake? How many friends encouraged you to walk into the gym? How often did pals come with you? Some friends may want to focus on results, like the amount of weight you’ve lost, but you can remind them that you’re trying to build habits, and the results will come if you can sustain good habits. Maybe they’d be interested in joining you!
Play around with these ideas over the next few weeks.
Mindful Agility Group
Here’s an example of our Mindful Agility retrospective for 2022.
Back at Mindful Agility, our driving purpose is to “help more people make purposeful progress.” A big challenge is communication: In 2022, Mirela and I wanted to learn how to teach mindfulness and agile to a broad, non-academic audience. We randomly chose podcasting as our medium, probably because our friend Noah Rasheta was hosting a successful podcast, which brought Mirela and I together.
We think we need to explore the idea of our implied purpose further: we never worked to align our efforts to a shared driving purpose, but we could. We can use a retrospective/introspection meeting to understand ourselves better, notice patterns of behaviors, discover our implicit/unconscious driving purpose and question ourselves: How is this serving us? Do we want to continue this path or change it?
Early on we established metrics for 2022. Here are some metrics we used:
- frequency we dropped new episodes
- total downloads (listens)
- downloads per episode
- community interactions
- total completed episodes ready to release (”queued episodes”)
Initially, we thought we could produce an episode per week, and we tried, but that proved challenging. We then decided to do an episode per two weeks, then settled on three weeks. Three weeks was roughly right for us in 2022.
Here were our total downloads for the four quarters of 2022: 441, 681, 594, 596 [so far]. We have 140 average downloads per episode. We are in the top 10% of podcasts, currently.
Community interactions have mostly been real-time. We host a Mindful Agility Community meeting via Zoom. There have been 10 meetings. Mirela and I agreed that we would not be discouraged if no one but us showed up, and we would use that time to strategize, plan, or work on Mindful Agility. On average, we had 4-5 attendees per meeting.
Queued episode count is a “relaxation measure.” If we have more queued episodes, we have more time to create the next episode, or experiment with other purpose-centric activities. The maximum number of queued episodes we had this year was 2, but honestly most of the time it was 0 or 1. This means we were mostly struggling to get an episode out.
Here are some other metrics of interest:
- Email list recipients: 1603
- Mindful Agility Community Facebook group members: 43
- LinkedIn Mindful Agility page followers: 80
- Twitter @mindful_agility followers: 96
3 Subjective Assessment
Mirela and I didn’t expect to recruit (volunteer) staff this year, but despite that we added two new staffers: Matt Zimmerman now helps us with audio editing and Scrum Mastering (project management). Dan Dickson is helping us think about corporate applications of this work. We all participate in weekly Review/Retrospective/Planning meetings and daily via-Slack Scrum meetings.
In 2022, our first few episodes included episode-specific meditations. We have found these more challenging to produce than expected, and we are not sure that they helped us achieve our purpose.
We didn’t expect to produce videos, but we ended up producing two: “Focused Awareness Meditation” and “Loving Failure for Agile Success.”
We collaborated with a “benefit corporation” in Alabama, called CAVU, to teach Scrum to underrepresented communities. Dan Greening served as co-trainer (with his Registered Scrum Trainer certification) and was able to bring Mirela, Matt, and Dan Dickson as students into one of these trainings, and so now all of us have Scrum Master and Product Owner certifications.
We consciously avoided anxiety, giving ourselves lots of slack if we didn’t make a Sprint goal. At the same time, we took the experimental approach of Scrum seriously.
The Mindful Agility group has been developing a Mindful Agility framework, which uses mindfulness principles to gain greater contextual awareness and harmony, and agile principles to advance faster. In 2022, we built the rough outline of that framework through our podcast interviews and explorations.
In 2023, we may…
- develop course material and test the framework with less one-on-one coaching
- try building community through cohort-groups
- reach out more reliably via email. The primary challenge for us is producing shorter content more frequently
- build written material toward a book
- experiment with sustainability—can we charge for some services: one-on-one coaching, courses, etc.? Does Mindful Agility increase the market for agile coaching, guided meditation, and/or executive consulting?
At Mindful Agility, we and our friends all seem to have embraced an experimental philosophy. As I write this, Mirela and Matt are moving to Albania for a year. At least two friends are writing books. Another has started a financial planning career.
We have been operating with the “mindful agility philosophy,” attempting to maintain a high level of interdependent awareness and low-cost experimentation.
We hope these ideas prompt you to identify
- a driving purpose to focus your efforts in 2023
- a set of habits to build that will help you with your effots
- a set of metrics that can measure your progress, from your current baseline
- some dates in the future, where you will retrospect.
Here’s to a great 2023!
Greening, D. and Petalli, M.. (2021, December 31), Self-Similarity—Mindful Agility. https://mindfulagility.com/self-similarity/
Greening, D. (2018, August 1). Align to a Driving Purpose. Senex Rex. https://senexrex.com/driving-purpose/
Greening, D. (2015, May 21). Measure Progress with Leading Indicators. Senex Rex. https://senexrex.com/pattern-measure-progress/
Clear, J. (2018). Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. Penguin.