In this weeks edition of #TopTipsTuesday - My top tips & tools for retrospectives
Ahhh.. The retrospective, my favourite agile ceremony. Why? It's all about what we've learned and what we'll experiment with next! As The Virtual Agile coach, I aspire to make retrospectives fun for those involved. I do this by mixing up the themes, styles, templates and approaches I use every time. This keeps them from becoming stale. We'll explore in this video how I approach every retrospective with a series of steps and top tips. Let's begin.. Step 1 - Set the scene I kick off every retrospective by reciting the retrospective prime directive. I'm aware this sounds like something out of Star trek, but for me, this simple addition at the beginning of a retro sets the context and outcomes sought as well as emphasising psychological safety. For the uninitiated, the retro prime directive is as follows; "Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand." Now what I love about this paragraph is that it sets the scene. We do not care how it happened, but we consider people with unconditional positive regard. People did the best they could given their situation at the time. This isn't about blame. Top tip #1 - Use the retro prime directive to align the teams focus on what matters, what you as a team can influence in the future. Focusing on the past and blaming one another is wasted time & energy. Step 2 - Choose your format There are a myriad of retro formats out there to choose from. I often create my own and over the years have created Game of thrones, rugby world cup and cricket world cup themes to keep things relevant and topical. Having a different format each time can help prevent things becoming boring. I often see teams use the same retro style each time and most often it's 'What did we do well.. What didn't we do well.. What will we do next time..? Top tip #2 - Use Randomretros.com Try using Random retro! This website generates a random retro format at the click of a button. Bring this format into a virtual whiteboarding tool and ta daaaa Step 3 - Conduct your retro I won't teach you to suck eggs here, but aim to keep the retro time bound, blame free and experiment focused. Don't leave the retro without having agreed 3-5 experiments that the team will aim to tackle in the next iteration. Top tip #3 - Pull your agreed experiments into your backlog. Ensure your retros aren't just lip service and discussion by adding them to your team backlog and prioritise these in the next sprint. Ensure you have capacity for these, don't just add them as stretch objectives. Remember, taking no action is a decision in itself. If the team identifies something that needs to be improved, but feels it's too busy to address it, you'll just be discussing the same thing at the next retro anyway. Step 4 - Share what you've learned with others! This is something else that I often see companies forget to do. So a team learns something, then what? How will you ensure others don't make the same mistakes? How will you be transparent about your learnings and experiments? Share the results of your retrospectives with others. They'll thank you for it if it prevents them falling foul of the same errors. Top tip #4 - Create a slack channel called #Learn-fast-learn-often. Encourage everyone in your company to share at least on a weekly basis what they've learned, what failures they had and what they'll try next. This will help establish a culture of learning & innovation Keen to hear your thoughts on these tips & tools. Keen to hear about how you conduct retrospectives. Feel free to comment and share If you have found value in this video, don't forget to subscribe to my channel for more videos & content on virtual agility. Don't stop believin folks!