A Guide for Preparing and Facilitating Retrospectives


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The Why, What, and ideas for How to prepare and facilitate Agile retrospectives

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  • A very helpful guide to performing retrospectives with good practical advice. Always good to hear from someone who does (rather than writes about) this stuff for a living.
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  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/ismasan/2850651980/
  • Retrospectives should not be about blame but rather cause and effect leading to learning and improvement.Reading out the prime directive is intended to remind and prime people into this mindset.
  • If people do not feel safe, the retrospective will not be effective
  • Always reserve enough time to cover off actions and what happens next. If nothing ever comes out of retrospectives, people will stop participating.
  • Given that you’ll need to do grouping and voting, you’ll need to have one concept per note. You generally have to point this out only to people who aren’t familiar with retrospectives.
  • Normal pencils and pens tend to be too thin to read from a distance. Fine-tip markers (e.g., Sharpies or similar) work better.
  • Some things that you need to be talk about will be uncomfortable so be careful not to say “Vote for what you WANT to talk about” but rather say something like “Vote for what we NEED to talk about” or “Vote for what you think are the most relevant topics to achieve our outcomes”
  • Being able to see each other helps humanise distributed participants. Having a mobile camera or other otherwise sharing pictures on the fly helps too.
  • Instant messaging helps support participation during gathering of comments and ideas. It’s also sometimes useful as a way to “get a word in” during discussions. You will generally need to have a local scribe / representative.
  • A Guide for Preparing and Facilitating Retrospectives

    1. 1. A Guide for Preparing and FacilitatingRetrospectivesJason Yipjcyip@thoughtworks.com@jchyiphttp://jchyip.blogspot.com
    2. 2. Why retrospectives?
    3. 3. How do we learn together?
    4. 4. How do we learn while we still haveenough time to intervene?
    5. 5. Basic retrospectivestructure
    6. 6. Simple retrospective framework1. Set the Stage: What is the purpose of the retrospective(e.g., improve delivery process)? What is the scope ofexploration (e.g., last week)?2. Gather Data: Collect facts and key memories3. Generate Insights: Interpret data, root cause analysis;identify solutions or improvements4. Decide What to Do: Prioritise which actions to take5. Close the Retrospective: Summarise and review planof actionFrom Agile Retrospectives by Esther Derby and Diana Larsen
    7. 7. Establish safety first
    8. 8. Prime directiveAt the start of the retrospective, read out aloud and display thefollowing:Regardless of what we discover, we understand andtruly believe that everyone did the best job they could,given what they knew at the time, their skills andabilities, the resources available, and the situation athand.At the end of a project everyone knows so much more. Naturallywe will discover decisions and actions we wish we could do over.This is wisdom to be celebrated, not judgement used toembarrass.http://www.retrospectives.com/pages/retroPrimeDirective.html
    9. 9. Safety check: 1 - 5Each person anonymously (e.g., fold up answers, same colour stickynotes and markers) writes down a number representing their senseof personal safety:1. I’ll smile, claim everything is great and agree with managers2. I’m not going to say much, I’ll let others bring up issues3. I’ll talk about some things, but others will be hard to say4. I’ll talk about almost anything; a few things might be hard5. No problem, I’ll talk about anythingIf there are a significant number of people that are 3 or below,redirect the retrospective to work out how to improve safety.http://agileretroactivities.blogspot.com.br/2012/11/safety-check.html
    10. 10. Safety check: ESVPEach person anonymously (e.g., fold up answers, same colour sticky notes andmarkers) writes down a letter representing how they intend to participate:- Explorer. You are eager to discover new ideas and insights. You want to learneverything you can about the the iteration/release/project.- Shopper. You will look over all the available information and will be happy togo home with one useful new idea.- Vacationer. You aren’t interested in the work of the retrospective, but arehappy to be away from the daily grind. You may pay attention some of the time,but are mostly glad to be out of the office.- Prisoner. You feel that you’ve been forced to attend and would rather be doingsomething else.If there are a significant number of Vacationers and/or Prisoners, redirect theretrospective to work out how to address this which may mean cancelling.http://www.markhneedham.com/blog/2012/10/27/retrospectives-an-alternative-safety-check/
    11. 11. A few retrospectivestyles
    12. 12. Four questions-What did we do well, that if we don’t discuss we mightforget?-What did we learn?-What should we do differently next time?-What still puzzles us?http://www.retrospectives.com/pages/RetrospectiveKeyQuestions.html
    13. 13. SAMOLO-Same As-More Of-Less Of
    14. 14. I Like, I wish, What IF?-I Like how we ….-I Wish that we would have …-What If we … ? OR I Wonder if we could … ?http://dschool.stanford.edu/wp-content/themes/dschool/method-cards/i-like-i-wish-what-if.pdf
    15. 15. Starfishhttp://www.thekua.com/rant/2006/03/the-retrospective-starfish/
    16. 16. Retrospective timelinehttp://www.thekua.com/rant/2006/03/a-retrospective-timeline/
    17. 17. Goal-drivenhttp://fabiopereira.me/blog/2008/11/23/goal-driven-retrospective/
    18. 18. Solution-focused goal-driven1. Identify the Ideal State / True North / Future Perfect using theMiracle Question. "Imagine that a miracle occurred and all ourproblems have been solved. How could you tell? What would bedifferent?”2. Identify where we are now using the Scaling Question. "If 10 isthe ideal and 0 is where nothing is working, where are we now?”3. Identify what we are already doing that works. "What are wealready doing that works? That is, why are we [for example] 5 ratherthan 0?”4. Identify how to move toward the ideal. "Using the resources wehave, what can we do to move one step closer to 10?”http://jchyip.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/solution-focused-goal-driven.html
    19. 19. Retrospective Dialogue sheetshttp://www.softwarestrategy.co.uk/dlgsheets/available.html
    20. 20. Practical tips and tricks
    21. 21. Make sure you close
    22. 22. One concept per sticky note
    23. 23. Fine tip markers for legibility
    24. 24. Vote for what we need to talk about, not forwhat we want to talk about-Encourage people to vote based on on relevance to targetoutcomes / goals, not based on what they happen to feel atthe moment.
    25. 25. Distributed tips andtricks
    26. 26. Video on all ends
    27. 27. Post comments through instant message
    28. 28. Retrospective checklist
    29. 29. Retrospective checklist1. What is the purpose of your retrospective?2. What kind of outcome are you looking for?3. Who will be invited to the retrospective?4. Do you anticipate any problems in terms of personalsafety and willingness or ability to contribute?5. What kind of retrospective process will you use?a) How will you set the stage?b) How will you gather data?c) How will you generate insights?d) How will you decide what to do?e) How will you close the retrospective?
    30. 30. Further references
    31. 31. Further references-Project Retrospectives, Norman Kerth• See also http://retrospectives.com-Agile Retrospectives, Esther Derby and Diana Larsen-The Retrospective Handbook, Patrick Kua,https://leanpub.com/the-retrospective-handbook-Agile Retrospective Resource Wiki,http://retrospectivewiki.org/index.php?title=Main_Page