People get stuck in routines. Good is the enemy of great. Yet, is it insane to expect good and better performance if nothing ever changes. Even if you want to, how do you know what to go about changing? Image from: http://arnoldgirls.net/2010/08/25/the-theory-of-relativity/
Image from under CC licence: http://www.flickr.com/photos/taiga-tundra/4987668213/sizes/l/Doctors do post mortems to learnmore. Armypeople do post mortems to reviewplans. Class and studyingdoesconstantreflection (tests, discussions) to highlight
Let’s reflect on what it is that you are all here to do, and what concerns you may have. Let’s see if we can match these hopes or addresses these concerns throughout this workshop
Ok, time to move on. Let’s look at the structure of a retrospective. How do we start, what do we do and when do we end?First we set the stage and then we gather information after which we try to gain insights. Then we define actions and close the retrospective. Looks a lot like any other meeting, right? There are some important differences that are necessary to make it a success.It’s important to start slowly, by setting the stage.
Not only the first time a team is holding a retrospective is it important to restate the goals of this meeting. Like every other meeting, it is held for a special reason, we want to look at our process as a team and use the brainpower of the group to improve ourselves in the future. We try to improve the way we work together, the things we use, the things we make, the interactions we have with the rest of the organization, improve quality, boost productivity, … Make sure that everyone is reminded that the retrospective is a meeting in which everybody is free to share his views, without judgment or ridicule. Corporate hierarchies do not exist, every issue must be addressable.It helps to create a set of rules together that need to be respected during the retrospective. It is an intense meeting, in which we need full attention and commitment. For instance by agreeing to shut down our phones we can avoid unpleasant interruptions. You can repeat these rules briefly at the start of every retrospective to make sure they’re not forgotten. Sometimes it may be necessary to review these rules and update them. If that’s clear and everyone agrees, try to get everyone relaxed and open them up to speak. You can use the check-in exercise we did in the beginning of this session where everyone just answered a random question. It breaks the ice and affirms that everyone’s participation is welcome and appreciated. It also opens up shy team members. If you’ve spoken once, you are more likely to speak again.Another thing to do at the start is to explain the structure of the meeting. Explain the agenda and timing so people have something to hold on to. Structure helps to keep the meeting going, so that it doesn’t wonder off into thin air.If you’re working with a new team, people might not know each other very well and are not aware of each other’s different views and backgrounds. That’s why it is a good idea to do some exercises in the first retrospectives to create a mutual understanding. The exercise two truths and a lie can trigger a group to get to know each other better which makes it easier to understand each other and overcome their differences.As a last thing before jumping into the retrospective, you can try to build up the energy level by using data or artifacts that show the results of previous improvement actions. It’s very energizing to see that your effort made a difference and is acknowledged.You already notice by the length of this slide that starting a retrospective takes some preparation and customization.
Although an iteration of a couple weeks might not seem a lot of time, people often have very different perspectives on this period. Gathering data helps to create a shared picture of what happened. Not only for those who weren’t present during a part of the iteration, for everybody. We can do this by gathering facts, what happened at what time? Look for data, events, features we worked on, issues we ran into. A common method is to draw a timeline and create post-its for all these things which we place on the corresponding moment on the timeline.The visual aspect is very important and acts as a guide during the rest of the retrospective. You can even try to capture the emotions that were experienced with each event on the timeline. For instance by giving them color codes. Green as happy, pink as sad, yellow as neutral.
Before we can start by searching for actions for improvement, we need to identify the problems areas with the highest priority. In most cases, certainly at the start of a project, teams don’t have a problem with creating a list of improvement candidates. The list can get very long, so we need to commit to a set which is doable in a next iteration. Things like dot voting are a democratic way to prioritize your list and agree to subset.Then we need to get to the bottom of these improvement candidates. It’s easy to jump onto the first idea that is thrown into the group. The problem is that this often isn’t the best. Instead, we try to use the power of the group to come up with several ideas. Combined with root cause analysis or other exercises to get to the origin of the issue, a group can work out the best possible solution to an issue.
The work is not finished. Solutions might be on the table, but you will find that they are often not very concrete. In the end we need tangible actions. Actions to which we can assign owners and that can be planned into the next iteration. If we would skip this step, you will notice that things remain untouched and the issue would be brought up again in the next retrospective.The same way a team commits to a sprint backlog, we need to be able to commit to the action points that are distilled in a retrospective.Now what do we do with action points that aren’t hands-on, but are more like agreements, for instance: “try the pomodoro technique for the next iteration”. I found it very usefull to already agree on how and when we are going to evaluate this agreement. This will often lead to concrete actions for the next iteration.
Like any other meeting, we need to close the retrospective properly.We can go over the results one more time, just to make sure they’re all sticking in our brain.Then recap on the practical stuff: Who will capture the artifacts of the retrospective, who will make sure our action points get into the next planning meeting, etc.Why not do a retrospective on the retrospective, this way we can also improve that part of our process.And finally, end with a positive note and appreciation for the hard work.
The word facilitate comes from Latin and means: “to enable, to make easy”.The facilitator role is very old. It existed even in ancient times when tribes stood around a fire. Meeting facilitation started to appear as a formal process in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Since then it evolved from learning facilitators to task oriented group facilitation especially in industrial and information richsocietieswhere time is a key factor. Their role is designed to help minimize wheel spinning and dysfunctional dynamics and to enable groups to work more efficiently together. He or she is content-neutral and takes no sides.
Now how can we define the role of a retrospective facilitator? Basically, I believe it comes down to these 5 responsibilities.Trigger communication, asking questions when things are not clear, encourage open discussions.Keep energy level up.Guide the team through exercises.Record truthfully, visualize and write down objectively.Help the group to run the meeting themselves.
I once read a book where it was described as helping a group with participatory decision making.The book is built around a model called 'the Diamond of Participatory Decision-Making'.It visualizes a journey that teams take in many meetings, and I believe this is also the case in retrospectives. Let me go over it quickly.We usually start a retrospective in the business as usual zone where the team comes up with obvious solutions to the problem. They refrain from taking risks or being ambitious. A facilitator should pay attention to the quality and quantity of each person's participation.If not everyone supports the proposal, the facilitator can help the team to break out of the business as usual zone and move into the divergent zone.In contrary to the business as usual zone, feelings are different in the divergent zone. People can be playful, curious and nervous. The facilitator has to help the team in expressing their divergent points of view by using brainstorming or go-arounds. He has to help each person to express their thoughts clearly by using mirroring or paraphrasing. Everyone should feel comfortable expressing their point of view.Once the team has expressed all points of view, often conflicts come forward due to not understanding each other's perspectives. They have entered the groan zone. It feels uncomfortable and stressful. People don't see the light at the end of the tunnel anymore. The task of a facilitator is not to prevent teams from entering the groan zone, but to support people in their effort to understand each other's perspectives. He has to assure the team that by going through this painful stage, they will eventually be able solve the problem as a group. The team can start on working on a shared framework of understanding which will lead them to the convergent zone.Now that everyone has a shared framework of understanding, discussions go smoother. Everyone gets the feeling that they are making progress again. People are enthusiastic and committed. The facilitator should let the team use their renewed energy to the fullest and get out of their way. Nonetheless he should guard that every proposal is one that covers everyone's interests.Finally, a decision has to be made in the closure zone. The facilitator has to guide the team in making that decision. It has to be clear to everyone what the decision embodies and how it is supported by all. An agreement scale can help to poll the support of a decision.You recognize the similarities with the structure of a retrospective? A good facilitator helps a team to navigate smoothly through this diamond model and reach group decisions that are sustainable.
MrSquiggle image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/spiritsdancing/2397421488/sizes/l/Blackboard from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/spiritsdancing/2397422446/sizes/o/
Retrospectives in Action @nickoostvogels @patkua
Check – In PURPOSE Icebreaker Improve communication Everybody speaks Remove tension
Check – In PLACE in retrospective Set the stage Gather information Insights Define actions Close Check In
Safety Check PURPOSE Understand people’s willingness to participate Low safety = conversations may not reflect reality and full story High safety = healthy discussions
Safety Check 5. No problem, I’ll talk about anything 4. I’ll talk about almost anything, a few things might be hard 3. I’ll talk about some things, but others will be hard to say 2. I’m not going to say much, I’ll let others bring up issues 1. I’ll smile, claim everything is great and agree with managers
Safety Check PLACE in retrospective Set the stage Gather information Insights Define actions Close Safety Check
Motivation Some people may feel safe, just not really motivated. Motivation measures a different aspect The ESVP exercise helps us here…
ROTI 5. Excellent. A really useful meeting worth more than time spent on it. High value. 4. Above average. I gained more than the time I spent. Good value 3. Average. I gained enough to justify the time spent on. I have not lost my time, no more. Value. 2. Useful but it wasn’t worth 100% of the time I spent on it. So I lost time. 1. Useless. I gained nothing. No value at all!
ROTI PURPOSE Get feedback on the retrospective Anonymous
ROTI PLACE in retrospective Set the stage Gather information Insights Define actions Close ROTI