Squeezing Twice As Much Out Of Retrospectives

Looking to adapt via Scrum? That’s what the Retrospective is for, and there are a number of ways to conduct this meeting. I’m a particular fan of one way that gets the team to share twice as much input.

We start by everybody getting a few of those sticky notes. Watch ‘em comment over the color of the sticky notes – it’s cute. Personally, I go for the neon pink – nothing wrong with standing out.

On a whiteboard, divide it up into three sections: Keep, Start, Stop.

ROUND 1: GET IDEAS

Now we get the team to sit and think. One idea per sticky, they each think back through the Sprint and write down ideas or events, one per sticky, that they would like to keep doing, start doing, or stop doing. Watch how a few ‘em will have lots to say, sometimes asking for more stickies.

Alright. If folks haven’t been walking up to the board to put ‘em in the appropriate area already, let’s do so. Watch ‘em say things like, “Hey, I said the same thing,” as they place their stickies next to similar ones.

Now we walk through each sticky. Retrospectives are the one meeting in Scrum where the most discussion takes place, so things can get a little emotional, and watch a few of ‘em change their vocabulary in describing events so as to not directly implicate anybody. This is also where the kudos come out. Encourage verbal back-patting.

During the discussion, group the stickies, maybe even draw a circle around them on the board to clarify. Get the team to agree that the stickies have been appropriately grouped. Excellent. Give yourself a back-pat. Surreptitiously.

ROUND 2: GET VOTES

We continue by everybody getting a few of those sticky dots. Watch ‘em comment over the color of the sticky dots – it’s cute. Personally, I go for the taupe – those are unfortunately rare.

Now we get the team to stand and deliver …a total of 5 sticky dots. One vote per dot, they get to distribute them however they like across the groups of sticky notes, voting for what they would like to keep doing, start doing, or stop doing. Watch how a few ‘em will deliberate aloud, undottedly undoubtedly influencing others.

Now we walk through the dot clusters, tallying up the votes per group of sticky notes. Step back. State the obvious, like a sports reporter, “Well folks, looks like this group over here got the most votes, with this other group here in second place.” Things won’t exactly get emotional, but watch a few of ‘em nod their heads, with fewer still pumping their fists in the air.

Et voila: the team sources ideas, the team votes on the ideas: the crew is surveyed twice, going deeper into the heart of the issues that matter.

Regardless of the vote distribution, the most voted note groups will be the focus of how the team will want to adapt for future sprints. Excellent. Give yourself another back-pat. This time, don’t hide it.