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The 6 Enablers of Business Agility - Scaled Retrospective

New Retrospective - 6 Enablers Scaled Retro

In an upcoming chapter of my new book "The Retrospective Playbook - Leveling up your continuous improvement game" - I explore the use of retros @ scale for identifying and addressing systemic impediments.

These are impediments external to the team, often impacting multiple teams in parallel and are areas which need support & action from senior leadership to address. Actions identified from scaled retros are great candidates for inclusion on an agile change backlog or for the programme backlog between product increments when working with the Scaled Agile Framework.

This new retro is inspired by the works of Karim Harbott and his book - 6 Enablers of Business Agility

Access the Miro and image templat below, plug & play into your own instances and let us know how you get on!

How this scaled retro works?

Step 1: Prepare the Teams - Pre-retro

Ensure the teams involved in the scaled retrospective understands the outcome behind the ceremony. Articulate this well in the calendar invite, encouraging people to come prepared to the session with their thoughts on how things have gone in the team recently. Remind people that the focus is on improvement.

This is a scaled retrospective involving multiple teams in parallel. The intent behind this scaled retro is to identify systemic impediments impacting multiple teams. With these identified, leadership can create a backlog of improvement initiatives designed to address these systemic impediments.

I'd recommend this retrospective should be run on a quarterly cadence which aligns well to many agile frameworks timelines such as SAFe's product increments. It is heavily encouraged that senior leadership are in attendance to listen, observe and take ownership for systemic impediments.

Duplicate the 'Team Template' as many times as you have teams participating in the scaled retro.

Top tip - It isn't necessary to run these team retros in parallel. You may choose to run these asynchronously and then hold a 'Team of Teams' retro where you discuss the outputs of the individual retros and create / prioritise systemic actions accordingly.

Step 2: Top enabler- 5mins

Set the expectation that this session will be engaging, immersive and participate by inviting the team to participate in the icebreaker related to the retro theme.

In this retro, we want to identify the single most important thing that would enable agility within the team. There is a section on the 'Business Template' to aggregate these top enablers by teams.

Step 3: Set the stage.

Remind participants of the purpose behind the retrospective. Norm Kerths Retro prime directive built into the template is a great way to reinforce the focus on unconditional positive regard. This helps create an environment of psychological safety and a bias towards continuous improvement & action.

It should be noted that not all of the prompts / questions presented MUST be completed within the timebox for the retrospective. A good discussion on one or two prompts that result in tangible actions is better than all of them being discussed, without actions being identified.

Step 4: Generate insights - Team divergence

The template has built in a number of question prompts or options the team may use to provoke discussion around how the team could improve and where it needs support externally. The facilitator may choose the first topic, or empower the team to choose. From there, suggest that the person who chose first nominates the next prompt.

With the prompt chosen, set a timer for 3-5 minutes and encourage silent reflection by requesting the team to add their thoughts onto the post-it notes related to the prompt. This will enable quieter voices to share their insight and can promote psychological safety.

Step 5: Generate insights - Team Discussion

When the timer is up, ask the team if there insights written down that they don't understand. Invite discussion on any themes or trends that may be observed. Ensure to invite quieter voices to share their insight aloud if they wish to do so.

When the team are happy to proceed, proceed to stage 6, dot voting.

Step 6: Dot vote

After allowing time for individual, silent reflection. Encourage the team to down select to the item that most needs an action or experiment against. Do so using shapes within Miro or for bonus engagement points, encourage the team to choose random images from Google. Dot voting with tiny tacos or pirates is more fun than just circles!

When voting has completed, each section should identify 1 important item to be addressed. This should be pulled to the relevant section on the main business template.

As an example, team Alpha may prioritised "More frequent communications from leadership as to progress" within the "People & Engagement" prompt. This should be added to the People & Engagement section.

Step 7: Programme Convergence

When each individual team has finished their own template and pulled their top prioritised relating to each of the enablers into the main 'Business Template', the teams are ready to converge and agree which actions should be generated for systemic improvement moving forwards.

Leadership should be present here to listen, understand and take ownership for systemic impediments. Again, 3-5 actions or experiments for the next quarter is an ideal number to be addressed.

Step 8: Retro your retro

With actions captured, ask the team to vote with a fist of five how they felt the retrospective went. The 'Rate your retro' section at the bottom of the template includes the detail as to how the team should do this

With the systemic impediments exposed transparently. Use templates such as the 'Experiment canvas' to co-create the path forwards.

Happy retroing at scale folks!


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