Scrum retrospective: Cool Runnings

If you are in your mid-thirties, you probably remember Cool Runnings (or Rasta Rocket for French people). I watched this movie a dozen times when I was a child. But did you know this movie was about a young Scrum team doing its Agile transformation ? Let’s have a look at this.

The team

So we have a group of Jamaican trained for olympic bobsled event leaded by their captain Derice Bannock. They are technically ready but struggle to find their place in the competition.

The winner’s secret

Derice, the captain, go to a training of the Swiss team, favorite for the event, to see what is their secret for being such a powerful team.

The Swiss team happens to butt each other’s heads before the event to reinforce their team spirit and count “Eins Zwei Drei” when pushing the bobsled. So, Derice decide to hit its teammates head before the qualification race and count “Eins Zwei Drei”.

Yeah, you got it: Cargo cult

But things didn’t went as planned and they did a catastrophic departure…

The retrospective

Going back to their room, the team analyze what has failed. Derice don’t understand what they did wrong as they did exactly like the Swiss team. Sanka gets angry and explain they are not Swiss, they are Jamaican. There is no point doing a Swiss bobsled, they must do a Jamaican bobsled.

The next sprint

Team finally find its own way of doing with their famous “Cool Running” battle cry.

They qualify for the finals, do an excellent race and won the golden medal…. No, just kidding, they crash just before the finish line.

So What ?

We have a team that were told to do Scrum. So they do Sprint planning, they have a Jira backlog with lots of ticket, they do “Stand up” meeting, but as they were still too long they even tried “Push up” meeting, they do Sprint reviews, Sprint retrospectives, smash their head and count “Eins Zwei Drei” at the beginning of each sprint, but it still doesn’t works. Why ? Because a Team has to find its own way of working. All the scrum ceremonies are not the cause of becoming Agile. They are the consequences.

The Cool Runnings retrospective

I designed a few years ago a sprint retrospective based on this movies. I spent a couple of minutes explaining the plot like what I did in this article, and then asked the team to put all the Scrum stuff we were doing into 2 categories:

And something really interesting happened. I had a bunch of grumpy people at this time that put everything in the “Eins Zwei Drei” column. Retro, stand up, planif, etc… When I asked them why they put ticket here, they quickly run out of arguments. In the end, they decided to put the stand up at 10am by themselves, they decided to do continuous backlog refinement along the sprint and have a quick planif on monday morning, they chose their DoR and DoD, they chose their workflow in Jira, etc… So my grumpy team that continuously complained about the process just realized that They put this process in place for reasons, and if it doesn’t fit their needs anymore, They have to change it.


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