I’ve led 200+ retrospecives, here are 7 elements to nail your next one based on my 10 years of experience🎭
This is a must-read for any #scrummaster #agilecoach or #teachlead if you want to build a team from a group of people and make a difference in your work and environment. Number 6 is my favourite. 😎
Rule #1: Look for resistance but don't push it
Where there is tension, there is something crucial to be voiced. Unpack it with curiosity, a metaphor and a lack of judgement. It might take several meetings to make progress. Be patient, supportive and respectful.
In terms of metaphor, use it with the team as a whole. Doing it with a single person in a larger meeting might open some gates which that person might feel uncomfortable sharing. They might notice it when it's too late.
Rule #2: Don't paraphrase, explore
When somebody is sharing a comment, don't paraphrase. It might (and probably will) change its meaning with your interpretation. Repeat it in the same manner and add follow-up questions if it's not clear enough. Ask if you understood correctly.
Rule #3: Make it (really) actionable
It takes people a long time to learn this one, and a lot has already been said so I will just give an example of actionable and not actionable
✖️Not actionable: We need to schedule a meeting on how we work with other teams.
✔️Actionable: We see that we fall short on our sprint goals when working with team X. We want to schedule a 1,5h meeting with them next week to discuss what we can do better to deliver.
For the meeting to be effective, both teams prepare a list of 3 things that suffer in our cooperation. We get out with 1-2 experiments for the next 2 sprints to try. Marcin collects the lists, schedules and facilitates the meeting.
Yes, making it actionable takes time. The alternative is that you always need to remind yourself, "what did we have in mind?" and you never know if you solved the problem or made a difference. You scratch the surface.
Rule #4: Don't make it only about the process
There is a myriad of important things to discuss like architecture, relationships, product strategy and more. Follow what is essential to the team and what data shows you should focus on. Read more 👉🏼 https://medium.com/agile-change/nothing-to-talk-about-on-retrospective-huh-901b447ae251
Rule #5: Be inclusive
I love the "Artful Participation" statement from Sociocracy3.0.:
"Is my behaviour at this moment the greatest contribution* I can make to the effectiveness of this collaboration?"
*may include holding back, interrupting, objecting or even breaking agreements
We are all different and process information in our specific ways. Requiring from all the same level of participation is neglecting individualism. Use sticky notes as not all have ease in voicing their opinions, leave space for thoughts to emerge, respect boundaries, be kind.
Rule #6: Follow the conversation, not the exercise
This one is my favourite. It's more important to follow the conversation and discover what people are passionately discussing than follow the structure you planned. There are exceptions, of course, e.g. to secure the safety.
Yet it helps crucial discoveries to emerge. Getting to the gist takes time. It's impossible to have a deep conversation after 5 minutes of retrospective. Why waste the moment by following your schedule?
Rule #7: Resources that make a difference
Ritual Dissent (https://cynefin.io/wiki/Ritual_dissent)
Sociocracy 3.0. (https://sociocracy30.org) - especially Navigating via Tension, Proposal Forming, Artful Participation, Consent Decision Making.
Retrobox - collect topics for retro during the sprint.
As for the last one, people's opinions about an event can change over time due to social pressure, not wanting to relieve emotions, and new facts emerging. It's worth collecting the topics and opinions as you go so participants can face them instead of neglecting them.