Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Send me a picture, so I can remember


Sprint retrospectives are important. This may sound like I'm stating the obvious but please make sure that you have concise retrospectives.

The big benefits of a good retrospective include
  • Getting honest feedback on the progress of your project. 
  • Gauging the teams mental state. 
  • Strengthening relationships between the team members (after all, we are in this together).
If you are organising the retrospective, your biggest job is to help people to give open feedback. You can do this by creating an environment in which they are comfortable and giving them tasks that help elicit the information as opposed to directly asking for feedback on the sprint.

The following exercise describes one of the methods for garnering feedback.

Postcards from the Sprint

  • Before the retrospective
    1. Get (or make*) some postcards. Try to use a wide selection of destinations, 10 postcards of the east coast is not a good selection. 
    2. Get (or make**) some tokens. Make sure that these are easily identifiable (eg. Monopoly pieces).
  • In the Retrospective
    1. Ask all member of the retrospective to choose a token.
    2. Spread out the post cards on a flat surface.
    3. Ask the members of the retrospective to place their token onto the postcard that they 'feel' represents the sprint that we have just completed.
          - Wait for everyone to place their token - 
    4. Choose a token (not a person***) and ask who that token belongs to. Ask that person to describe in what way they feel that that postcard represented the sprint.
    5. Remember to say thank you. 

Why is this a good exercise

  • The postcards act as a starting point, whether that it is an association to the place, geography or a metaphor, the person is grounded by the selected image and merely needs describe a context.
  • Everyone gets to express an uninterrupted opinion and comment on the sprint.
  • The tokens are ambiguous, and therefore the running order is random.
  • Members choices are 'locked in' so there is no playing follow the leader when they are expressing their feeling.

Retrospectives should not feel like a chore and it is not a cull-able step in the process. So keeping people engaged at this stage is important. we've managed it all sprint and by Jove we'll keep them engaged in the retrospectives too!!

* How to make a postcard: Find a royalty free picture, resize it, print it, cut it out, laminate it.
** How to make a token: (see 'How to make a postcard' above).
*** Not a person: We want to disassociate any feeling of singling out, identifying or alienating individuals when eliciting unbiased feedback, hence the tokens.