Deepak will be presenting the following session
  • Deepak Koul

    Deepak Koul - Taking biases into account : Why retrospectives promise more and deliver less

    20 Mins
    Experience Report

    Sprint retrospectives were designed to make the process of software development empirical. An approach where you can make mistakes but also reflect and learn from those mistakes.

    They possibly are the ‘A’ in the Deming’s Wheel (Plan-Do-Check-Adjust) that served as the origin of iterative development methods. Unfortunately, that is not how modern retrospectives work. They are rife with boredom, failure to admit mistakes, and lack of follow up if somehow two or three action items were identified.

    My interest in organizational behaviour and keen research links each of these problems to a cognitive bias.


    In this talk, I will list all of the biases that make retrospectives ineffective and ways in which we can mitigate them.

    For example, Recency bias is the tendency to focus on the most recent time period instead of the entire time period. Having retrospectives at the end of a sprint or maybe once a month makes people forget most of the problems they faced or the mistakes they made early in the sprint.

    But how do we fix this?

    Radical idea but how about a custom field called “Lessons learned” on every ticket you work on. Everybody keeps filling their observations per ticket during the sprint instead of waiting for the final retrospective.

    We can call them micro-retrospectives spread across the entire cycle that can be the fodder for the actual retro meeting.

    There are also other biases like sunk cost fallacy and halo effect that I am going to discuss in this session.

1. What got you started/interested in modern software development methods?

The ability to adapt to change and how they are goal based instead of traditional skill based control structures.

2. What do you think is the biggest challenge faced by the software product engineering community today?

Temptation to think of everything as an algorithmic and measurable entity.

3. What do you think are the most exciting developments in software product engineering today?

Mix of psychology and ethics in engineering. Especially in AI and data privacy.

4. Why did you choose the topic(s) you will be speaking about at the conference?

It is closely related to how humans actually think vs how they believe they think.

5. What are some of the key takeaways from your session(s) at Agile India?

The point is to rethink how we reflect on things.

6. Which sessions are you particularly looking forward to attending at Agile India this year?

Jason Yip and Sunil Mundra's sessions are unmissable.

7. Any personal remarks/message you want to share with the software community?

Best time to be a software engineer is now :)