Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness
I’ve been asked to do a lot of Agile retrospectives around Microsoft over the years. I don’t know how it started, but it started several years ago when somebody recommended that I lead a retrospective for their team, and then it caught fire from there.
In this post, I’ll share a simple recipe you can use as a baseline to help shape your Agile retrospectives for building high-performance teams.
Agile retrospectives are a powerful way to help teams go from good to great, and to help less than good teams, get better fast. The value of a retrospective is the learning and insight that you can carry forward. A retrospective is a look back with an open mind on the collective learning around what to start doing, stop doing, and continue doing.
With that in mind, the true value is in the actual change in the people, process, or technology that supports your ability to flow value.
To drive a great Agile retrospective, it helps to know what gets in the way or what goes wrong:
Below is a recipe that you can use that should help you get started or improve your retrospectives. Nothing is set in stone, but it helps to see some things that have worked time and again (the timeless truths.) Be sure to adapt as you see fit, but at the end of the day, remember that establishing is important, and that your best outcome is a short list of what to start doing, stop doing, and continue doing – that you actually implement.
I’ve found two Edward de Bono techniques help deal with conflict during hot topics are:
I find these techniques help keep an open and curious mind. Especially if you use them in a question-driven way and keep it simple. Rather than have people arguing different sides at the same time, have them argue the same side at the same time, and then switch perspectives (or “hats.”)
· White Hat – the facts and figures
· Red Hat – the emotional view
· Black Hat – the “devil’s advocate”
· Yellow Hat – the positive side
· Green Hat – the creative side
· Blue Hat – the organizing view
· What are the facts and figures?
· What’s your gut reaction? How do you feel about this?
· Why can’t we do this? What prevents us? What’s the downside?
· How can we do this?
· What are additional opportunities?
· How should we think about this? (what are the metaphors or mental models)
Sometimes, the best way to help people stay open and
How to Shift to Dialogue:
You can skip doing an affinity diagram exercise, if folks are comfortable with each other and there's no recent new members. Otherwise, it's overhead, but it helps for the following:
There are other tricks of the trade, but if you focus on a clear agenda, compelling outcomes, and manage the conflict while driving an open dialogue, you’ll be in good shape.
May the power of Agile retrospectives serve you well.