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Becoming a More Effective FAST Tribe

At regular intervals, the [tribe] reflects on how 
to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly
 – Principal behind the agile manifesto

FAST borrows from Scrum and has some differences. Some of these come out of the fact that FAST is designed to scale where Scrum is not. So to map the idea of a Sprint Retrospective requires us to take a different approach once we have hit the scaling tipping point of FAST - i.e., more people than you would feed with two pizzas. At this point, you have a tribe and not a team.  In FAST we describe a tribe as a network of talent, a complex adaptive system, or to use the analogy from General Stanley McChrystal - a team of teams

Once you have a network where teams form and re-form dynamically, how do you map a retrospective onto such a formation? Does each swarm have a retrospective? But if so, what is the point when the longevity of that swarm is unknown. Wouldn’t it be better for the entire tribe to move up together? But how do you hold a retrospective meeting for an entire tribe? Does that even make sense?

If you look at Scrum, 1.875% of an iteration is spent on the reflection and improvement meeting. (3/160 hours.) If you translate that to ratio to a two-day FAST iteration, that would be an 18-minute meeting! So yeah, that isn’t going to do anything is it? And on the other side of the coin, can you justify a one-hour retrospective inside a two-day iteration? Overkill?

We have several possible answers to these questions and suggest that you go experiment and find out what works for your tribe.

A few options:

  1. A regular FAST Guild meeting
  2. A regular effectiveness iteration for the whole tribe
  3. A combination of the above
  4. Come up with something else that complies with the principle behind the Agile Manifesto of reflection and effectiveness.

FAST Guild Meeting

This is a regular meeting where those interested and passionate about improving their implementation of the FAST process meet, discuss and reflect. Does not need to happen every iteration necessarily, but certainly with some regularity to conform to the agile principal.

Activities might include:

  • Revisit current running experiments and decide if they are worthy of continuing
  • Ratify successful experiments into the process as part of how we work here
  • Come up with new experiments and define the period that they run and what the success and failure criteria are for the experiment to be completed and ratified or abandoned

Effectiveness Improvement Iteration

So here is another idea. Why not have every 10th iteration (or 5th, or 15th?) as an improvement iteration? Maybe it is a two-day open space event where the right people talk about the right things (principals of open space technology) and come up with the right actions?

Or if you think an entire iteration is too long – maybe try a one-day event?


FAST is not prescriptive in how you implement your regular interval reflections. It leaves the discovery of this aspect to the tribe to innovate for themselves.

Glossary of FAST to Scrum Nearest Equivalent

 FAST Scrum
 Swarm Team
 Product Director Product Owner
 Iteration Sprint