Leading vs. Lagging Indicators OR Futurospective vs. Retrospective Activities
Floyd Marinescu on his Culture and Happiness in Virtual team presentation at the QConSP 2014 conference brought a very interesting point to my attention.
Make sure to track and meet weekly to talk about your team leading and lagging indicators.
Leading indicators are metrics about the future and upcoming events. Lagging indicators are metrics collected based on the past events and happenings.
I watched his talk a little after I had given my latest talk about retrospectives. Naturally I related his points to my retrospective world.
Traditional retrospectives activities are looking at the past. Typically, these are more interested on the lagging indicators. On the other hand, futurospectives activities are for preparing for the upcoming future. Therefore these are more interested on leading indicators.
Floyd had another precious advice: To focus on the leading indicators, trying to keep these green (visual representation of the good status). Good status for leading indicators will usually support good results which are/will be shown in the lagging indicators.
I also had the same experience as a project leader and a retrospective facilitator. By running futurospectives (responding to leading indicators) you might end up with better results which will appear on your retrospectives (lagging indicators).
My advice: Teams should consider alternating retrospective and futurospective activities. And make sure to keep doing it on a weekly basis.